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    Description

    BAULE, Ivory Coast
    Bush cow Helmet Mask

    Wood, pigments

    The Akan-speaking Baule probably borrowed this mask, and the male society that uses it, from Mande-speaking neighbors. The mask and the society are called "Bonu Amwin" ("God of the Woods"). This is a wild spirit represented as a bush cow in Bonu Amwin masks. The bush cow is a forest-dwelling relative of the Cape buffalo, though with shorter horns; but like its better-known relative, it is aggressive and dangerous. These are qualities desired for a mask housing a force that polices a village, restores order after the death and funeral of a Bonu Amwin society member, removes the taint of death from the village and protects against unseen dangers. Bonu Amwin can also be a war mask, healing wounds and raising the newly-dead. For all these wild and fearsome qualities, it is kept in the bush, away from the village when not in use, and must not be seen by women, lest they die. However, a Bonu Amwin mask must be "rested" after use to regain its powers, and it loses power if damaged.

    A Bonu Amwin mask is a large helmet type, worn at a nearly horizontal angle. It combines human eyes and nose with square crocodile jaws and teeth. Instead of the customary pair of flat, curving bush cow horns normally seen on Bonu Amwin masks, the present example has an unusual double pair of antelope horns with elegant curves contrasting with the bold, aggressive features of the face, as if to underscore positive, healing and order-restoring functions with the dangerous and destructive capacity of Bonu Amwin.

    Provenance:
    From the Estate of Liz Claiborne and Arthur Ortenberg

    Read more about the Liz Claiborne and Arthur Ortenberg Collection here.


    Sotheby's, Important Tribal Art, May 5, 1997, lot 76

    Length: 23 inches


    Estimate: $2,000 - $3,000.

    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    July, 2016
    8th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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