West Africa, Cote d'Ivoire, Baule peoples, ca. late 19th to early 20th century CE. A fine standing wooden female "Blolo Bla" figure, hand-carved from hardwood, created by a Baule artisan of West Africa. The figure boasts a classic form, standing nude on muscular delineated legs atop an integral circular plinth, her arms bent to a slight distended abdomen with a protruding navel and protective hands guarding her womb. Pendulous breasts and angular shoulders form a gentle maternal stature, and her scarified neck supports a finely-modeled head. Her face exhibits a serene visage comprised of downturned eyes, a prominent nose, closed lips, and several areas of scarification marks, all beneath an elaborate plaited coiffure with a pair of braids. Her back displays a rectangular panel of patterned scars enclosed with a grooved border. Covered in gorgeous layers of smooth brown patina, this is a skillfully carved example from the Ivory Coast. Custom wooden display stand included. Size: 2.3" W x 12.75" H (5.8 cm x 32.4 cm); 13.875" H (35.2 cm) on included custom stand.
Figures of this form are known as "Blolo Bla" - an ancestral spirit wife sculpture that would be placed in the home, looked after and attentively cared for, as such special figures are believed to act as a medium to the spirit world. Examples like this are also referred to as "Dream Lovers," because they are believed to visit the living in their dreams and may serve as an Oracle who can predict the future or act as a dream lover.
A similar example hammered for $24,000 at Sotheby's, New York "African, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian Art" Auction (May 14, 2004, lot 49): http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2004/african-oceanic-and-pre-columbian-art-n07996/lot.49.html
Provenance: private New York, New York, USA collection
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Surface wear and abrasions commensurate with age, and losses to half of integral base. A few stable pressure fissures and small nicks across abdomen, head, neck, and base, light fading to finer carved details, and fading to some areas of coloration. Light earthen deposits within recessed areas, and great brown patina throughout.