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    Description

    BAULE, Ivory Coast
    Standing Male Figure

    Wood, fine encrusted patina

    The Baule are one of the largest groups in the Ivory Coast. They are part of the Akan linguistic group, sharing language and descent carried in the female line with the Asante of Ghana, though, unlike the Asante, the Baule never built a state system: government remains at village level.

    Baule figure sculpture never depicts ancestors, but represents instead beings from the spirit world or wild, sometimes dangerous forest spirits of the earth, Ase. Figure sculptures provide a way to communicate with invisible, possibly dangerous beings and control them through carvings representing them as beautiful beings and through gifts presented to these images.

    Figure sculptures fall into two main categories: "spirit spouses" and "earth spirits." The "spirit spouse" honors an invisible, jealous husband or wife one had in the spirit world before one was born into the physical world. The jealousy of this spirit may become disruptive, and a beautiful sculpture of it, presented with small gifts and attention, may soothe it. These are intensely private images that never receive public notice. A figure of an "Asie Usu" ("earth spirit") is made when, after unusual troubles, a person consults a diviner, who determines that the trouble has been caused by the attentions of a wild, disruptive forest spirit. The person is advised to listen to the dictates of this spirit as they are made known in dreams. A bargain is struck: the spirit is housed in a dignified figure, fed with sacrificial material applied to the image and consulted when other people are troubled by forest spirits in exchange for a return to calm and order. With the help of flattery, a former victim often becomes a diviner in partnership with the very spirit that caused all the trouble.

    Out of context it is often difficult to determine whether a figure represents a spirit spouse or an Asie Usu since both call for images of dignity, grace and calm, but the Asie Usu figure usually has surface encrustations of sacrificial material never seen on the image of a spirit spouse. The fine, aged and encrusted patina of the present figure clearly identifies it as an Asie Usu figure.

    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 254
    Ex-collection: Lee A. Ault, Locust Valley, NY

    Height: 19 ΒΌ inches


    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 Dates
    July, 2016
    8th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
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