africa direct

Baule Goli Mask Kplekple with Horns Checkboard African

A large square mask with two strong curved horns and a face recognized by two stylized eyes painted in white and a toothy square mouth.

Among the Baule of the Ivory Coast this bark painted face mask is known as Goli Kplekple. Historically the mask was a late introduction to the Baule who acquired it from the neighboring Wan people sometime around 1900. Such a mask  appears during ceremonies celebrating the life and death of honored elders or at other times will dance to simply entertain the village or celebrate the harvest.

The Baule have a number of different masks ranging from refined portrait masks to large headpieces representing wild buffalo or antelope and are exuberantly carved and painted. The Kplekple mask was one of a set of masks that appear during a ceremony and is identified with the spirit of the young men who dance the mask. As one of the first masks to appear during a dance ceremony Goli Kplekple sets the stage and engages the audience and prepares the way for the more important masks that will dance later. Baule masks are most often symbolically representative of animals in the Baule pantheon of mythical animals and beings. This kplekple shows an abstracted buffalo head in a flat format with slightly protruding eyes and mouth and with the horns projecting upwards and with a slight beard pointed downwards. It could well be an anthropomorphizing bush cow with human facial features. It is used as the wear at the back of the mask shows. In addition the numerous repainting show its age and use. However the last few coatings of paint were European style enamel paints that give it a hard and shinny finish. It would be worn with a raffia (grass) costume attached to the lower section of the mask reaching to below the waist with a grass skirt and other grasses covering the body and legs. It is a visually dramatic example of the continuity of a long-standing Baule tradition of use of the over painted a number of times to renew its visual and symbolic statement.

25" wide by 28" tall, 43" tall with horns