Baule Seated Male Figure, Ivory Coast
height 15 1/4in (38.7cm)
Wood, beads, fiber
Billy Pearson, La Jolla
Morton and Estelle Sosland, Kansas City
This finely carved work, which lacks kaolin or sacrifices on it, is probably a spirit spouse. According to Vogel (1997: p 240), "the original purpose of a Baule sculpture can only be guessed as once it has left its original context. The surface is a partial indicator - but not entirely reliable: spirit spouse figures tend to be clean, without kaolin or sacrifice on them."
Vogel continues (p 246-47), "These spirit (spouses) help their human partners broadly in their lives, and can spread their good will to the children or spouse of their partner. More rarely, a spirit spouse will help a clairvoyant or diviner to foretell the future for clients, or will produce some other specialized talent or activity (such as singing or dancing skills). In my earlier publications, I may have overemphasized the spirit spouses' association with sexual and reproductive problems, and their important role in maintaining a good and fruitful marriage. In fact they ideally improve all areas of life, from school grades to business."