Goli Mask

HCK 0617-1

Baule, Goli, kplekple mask, Ivory Coast

This is a well-carved authentic mask, called kple kple which is a specific type of mask made by the Baule people. Common features of the kple kple disc shaped facemasks include antelope shaped horns, round eyes, rectangular shaped mouth and geometric designs. The red face is considered female and the dark/black face is considered male.

Kple kple masks are one of the great abstractions in African art. They are used in ceremonies related to the Goli festival of the Baule people. A Goli is considered a family. The Goli festival is a day-long spectacle that involves the whole village. It is performed during funerals as well as commemorative occasions and agricultural events. The Goli masquerades involve three rituals during the day; at dawn, afternoon and after sunset. Kple kple masks appear at dawn and again briefly during the evening to announce the arrival of Goli Glin, a zoomorphic figure or kpwan, an anthropomorphic figure. The mask wearer mediates with supernatural forces during the ritual which has a positive influence on the village people. During the festivities, the young mask wearers are often draped in goatskin that covers their back – along with a raffia skirt. The mask is attached to the costume with vegetable fibers.

The Baule people represent one of the most important tribes of the Ivory Coast. Baule means ´the son is dead´ and refers to the origin of the tribe. According to a legend, Queen Aba Pokou led her people on an exodus towards the gold mining areas during the 18th century and had to cross a river where she was obliged to sacrifice her son to the river god, thus giving her people the name Baule. ´the son is dead´. During the 19th century, the queendom disintegrated due to internal conflicts. When the French colonial power arrived in the beginning of the 20th century, they found only a network of villages, headed by councils of men.

With their sense of stylization and attention to detail, the Baule people have produced some of the most both generic and elegant objects of all African art for centuries. Even today they still produce numerous sculptures and masks with great skill.

Condition: This is an authentic mask in perfect condition despite age and heavy use. Both the facade as well as the back testify to diligent use.

Provenance: Old private Belgian collection.

Age: Est. late 19th to early 20th Century.


The Tribal Arts of Africa, Jean-Baptiste Bacquart, Thames  Hudson, London, 1998. p. 48.

African masks, The Barbier-Mueller Collection, Iris Hahner, Maria Kecskési and László Vajda. Munich, 2007. p.40-41.




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