Baule Ga Houkei Mask and Costume
Origin: Ivory Coast
Approx Age: Later 20th Century
Materials: Wood, goat skin and plant fibre
Dimensions cm: Mask size: 70 long x 41 wide x 30 tall
Ref. Number: 1015
A stunning and rare Baule Ga Houkei mask and costume, the mask comprising of a 2 headed bush beast with the leopard ot top showing the strength and power of the mask. The costume is 2 different thickness’s of raffia with a goat skin adorned to the rear of the mask to which the dance would ‘whack’ with a stick he was dancing with. The Baule portrait heads either side of the mask have been carved separately and fixed. One of the dowel type pieces on top has had a repair, this can be seen in the photos.
Baule Ga Houkei / Kpan Dje masks are part of a secret society where the Bo Nun Amuin mask is also used, but very little is known about the actual Ga Houkei mask as they are very rare.
Baule Bo Nun Amuin, meaning ‘gods of the bush’ or ‘gods risen from the bush’) is a strong protector of the village from outside threats. The mask has also been used during funerals of important male elders, former dancers and chiefs, and only ever danced at night. It is believed that the mask helps deceased elders become ancestors in the afterlife; the ancestors of the Baule people bring good fortune and help to the village and aid in the prevention of external threats.
Also used to discipline women, Baule bo nun amuin masks are used to threaten women into good behaviour. Women are forbidden to look at the mask (even during performances); those that do look risk illness, misfortune or even death. These masks are so sacred that only a select number of men from a secret society are allowed to see the mask. It is considered taboo for anyone but the dancer to touch the mask.
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