Vintage and Antique Tribal Art and Artifacts from The Americas.

An important Baule 'Gbekre' figure

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Directory: Archives: Regional Art: Pre 1920: Item # 1246618

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michael cichon tribal arts
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P.O. Box 5919
Bradenton, FL 34281

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The lesser deities of the Baule pantheon are embodied in zoomorphic or fantastic creatures. Most popular is this simian creature known to the Baule people as 'gbekre' or 'mbotumbo'. Its main role, set-up outside the village limits, is to protect against evil spirits, but it also figures in some agricultural rituals and in divination ceremonies. A small bowl-shaped receptacle is raised by the arms and ritually held in the hands of this deity. The figure has been cleaned/denuded of its once thickly encrusted, outer patina. However, traces of this layered material still are to be seen over the saturated, medium brown surface; a darkened ring is visible along the circular base caused from the hard wood absorbing the liquids and oils of numerous sacrificial libations. Well-defined, stylized facial features and abstracted limbs and body forms make this figure a particularly dynamic example. This Ivory Coast sculpture measures 20.50" in height, and dates - according to the notes of its original owner - to "about 1910." Condition is very fine, although each of the arms have been cleanly broken at the elbow region and glued back into place. This breakage happened decades ago. The interior of the mouth has been reddened with an organic pigment. Provenance: Peter Pollack collection, NYC and FL, since the 1940's.