African Tribal Art: Baule People, Cote d'Ivoire, West Africa: A superb and unusual Baule monkey figure, holding a vessel and spear while riding on the back of a horse. Its large simian head with an open prognathous mouth, prominent teeth and ridged nose leading to a raised brow; heavily encrusted and brown and blackened patina. Carved wood, with natural-fiber cord wrapped on the neck and waist. 19th Century.
"The Baule have monkey figures commonly used for the "Mbra" cult that more or less resemble each other. Endowed with prognathic jaw and sharp teeth and a granular patina resulting from sacrifices, the monkey holds a bowl or a pestle in its paws that was used to hold an egg. Sources differ on its role or function: some say it intervenes in the ritual of divination, others that it is a protection against sorcerers, or a protective divinity of agrarian rites, or a bush spirit. Owned only by trance diviners and certain families, the figure resides hidden outside under a shelter. The sculpture is said to feed on sacrifices brought from the bush and poured all over the figure, leaving it filthy and encrusted."
Source: A History of Art in Africa and Africa and Africa - The Art of A Continent
32.75H x 8W x 7D (inches).
Private Collection, Massachusetts, Private Collection, New York
Good condition. Heavily patinated. Minor wood losses at the ears.
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