A Baule Mask in the Museum Collections

Originally Published in 1930

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A Mask from the Ivory Coast with a bird atop it
A Mask from the Ivory Coast, Africa
Museum Object Number: 29-35-1

THE dry-point engraving by Mrs. Beatrice Levy of Chicago which is reproduced as the frontispiece represents one of the Ivory Coast masks from the new collections announced in the January Bulletin. It belongs to a class of masks called goli by some of the Baule people of the interior of the Ivory Coast, a French colony in West Africa. Goli are made of wood sacred to Dibi, “the soul of the sere tree.” Dibi protects his votaries from bullets, preserves them from ambuscades, heals their wounds, protects them against witchcraft, and slays robbers. Such masks are worn by the officiant at certain magicoreligious rites which are intended to make effective for the votary the powers of the tree-spirit. The bird which stands on ram’s horns surmounting the mask may be an ibis or, more likely, a kind of heron. It is possible that the mask may he composite in the purposes of its employment, as it is in construction, since ram’s horns are an attribute of the Baule skygod.

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"A Baule Mask in the Museum Collections." Museum Bulletin I, no. 2 (February, 1930): 4-5. Accessed May 30, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/bulletin/120/

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