BAULE MATERNITY FIGURE
Country: Ivory Coast
Size: 20" (51 cm)
Condition: Very good considering age.
Status: SOLD - Private Collection - Taipei, Taiwan
Classically carved figures such as this mother and child among the Baule are known generally as waka sran, meaning a 'person of wood'. Some maternity sculptures were owned by diviners known as Komien, who could tell the future, cure illnesses as well as solving local community problems. The figure embodies a number of symbolic elements as shrine figure; she is a 'mother' and for the diviner she is a place of residence for the spirit of the bush to reside ready to be called upon by the diviner. Advised by the bush spirit (asye usu) the diviner will determine the reason that a woman is barren and direct her as to what she must do bear children. It is the energy and power of the bush spirits that create and give life that are contacted by the diviner and directed to the woman.
Recommended reading for more information: Baule Statuary Art: Meaning and Modernization - Phili L. Ravenhill ISBN:1-56098-650-6.