In central Ivory Coast, dance competitions are held between neighboring villages at which these masks
perform. Such masquerades in various forms are popular entertainment. The masks allow a closer contact with
the supernatural world. The face masks
are portraits representing individuals who embody an ideal beauty
in their culture. Although portrait masks depict a person in his or her
prime, their performance suggests a dignified elder. The Baule gba
gba masks are used at the funerals of women during the harvest
season. It celebrates beauty and age, hence its refined features.
According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, masks like this were "designed as part of a Baule theatrical tradition, known as "Mblo," that combines dramatic skits and solo dances, this mask is an idealized representation of the prominent member of the community for which it was sculpted. Its lustrous carved surfaces suggest healthy skin set off by a delicately textured coiffure and facial scarifications. Within Baule culture, Mblo portrait masks are appreciated as the most refined and long-standing form of artistic expression. While they may depict either men or women, such works were generally commissioned by a man to honor a female relative or created by a carver in homage to a particular woman's dance skills and beauty. Because of their importance, only the best dancers are eligible to wear portrait masks in performance. On such occasions it is required that the portrait's subject, or "double," be present to accompany it."
Note: This style of mask is often copied, and very rarely do we find one like this that was used ceremonially, versus those that are just made for sale.
Ex. Eugene Netzer, Ex. Scott Rodolitz, Ex. Christopher McConnell Collection
Depth: 5 ¼”