Baule Doh Figure
- Tribe: Baule
- Origin: Ivory Coast
- Approx Age: 1930 - 1940
- Materials: Wood
- Dimensions cm: 29 (tall including stand)
- Ref. Number: 1075
An old example of a pre-colonial Baule Doh Figure. The Baule name this figure as “doh” meaning fetish female. It is for women’s rituals to accompany the queen to make offerings to the ancestors, it was covered with red kaolin which is a symbol of victory to show the success of sacrifice made. Although the covering of red kaolin looks to be random, its is placed. Nicely carved with simple coiffure, facial features, and delicate body. Sadly there has been loss to the toes on both feet due to the age of this enchanting figure. This piece would have been owned by a Baule Komian ( Spiritual Healer).
This Baule Doh Figure would have been owned by a diviner who is known as a komian. Baule diviners are consulted by people who desire assistance in solving significant problems, perhaps relating to childbearing or other health concerns. Sculptures are often an important presence in divining sessions. Diviners may inherit such works from older colleagues or commission them based on the direction of a spirit whose insights they draw upon in their professional consultations.
The Baule diviners can be male or female. Amongst the Baule a diviner is more likely to be male. The diviners have paraphernalia, and this is hats, mallets, display weaponry and iron gongs, and the diviner also possesses a fine-art sculpture(s) of the human figure. Divination is an attempt to form, and possess, an understanding of reality in the present and additionally, to predict events and reality of a future time.
For the Baule ( an Akan in general), the principal of life related to the territory where they live is placed in the realm of the “Boson”, a world to which the Baule are indebted. The Boson are aledged to be more superior to people because they were the areas first inhabitants. We might say that the Boson are an invisible spirits of place. Anthropomorphous but not human, they become present to a community through the actions performed by a man or woman called a Komian. These religious specialists are also endowed with oracular and healing powers. Whether man or woman, an initiated diviner is said to be the ‘wife’ of the Boson, who endow him/her with healing and divinatory powers. The Komians positions transcends the linage organisation.
Cultures of Africa are still performing and using divination, both within the urban and the rural environments. Diviners might also fulfill the role of herbalist. Divination might be thought of as a social phenomenon,and is thought of as central to the lives of people in societies of Africa.