Baule Prestige Object

The Baule people are represented by religion, art, festivals, and equal society. There are more than sixty-five different Akan-speaking ethnic groups living in Cote d’Ivoire. 

Baule royal knife

Tribe: Baule

Origin: Ivory Coast

Approx Age: Mid-20th Century

Materials: Wood

Dimensions cm: 16 long

Ref. Number: 1840


A rare and beautifully executed Baule prestige object in the form of a dagger in its sheath. The carving within the Baule tribe was all about beauty, prestige items such as this excellent work would have been carved just to show off royal wealth, as the Baule people were lovers of beautiful things.

Provenance: Ex-Helmut (1931-2021) & Marianne Zimmer, Zürich.


“We can’t live without beautiful things” – this confession of a Baule could also come from the mouth of a western art lover. Surrounding oneself with attractive objects was a fundamental concern for the Akan in the Republic of Ivory Coast as it is for collectors of African art. This view of the life of the Akan was expressed in finely crafted ritual figures as well as in lovingly decorated everyday objects.

Miniature representations carved from wood serve as showpieces for Akan royalty and notables and are publicly displayed at celebrations as “beautiful objects”.

The Baule are one of the Akan people. They moved west to the Ivory Coast more than 200 years ago and adopted sculptural and masking traditions from their neighbours, the Guro, Senufo and Yaure peoples.

Intricately carved spoons were prestige objects for the Baule. Intricately carved staffs were also prestige objects and were often used as dance wands.

Further reading: African Art Western Eyes by Susan M. Vogel (Yale).

Further reading:
Ross, Doran and Eisner, George (2008). The gold of the Akan. Liaunig Museum. Neuhaus: Museum Administration GmbH.

Baule flyswish

A Baule carver intricately carving the decoration on a flyswish handle before covering it in gold leaf.

Photo was taken by Hans Himmelheber in 1934

Contact Exquisite African Art

9 + 11 =

+44 (0)1507 328026

Follow us

Subscribe to our mailing list

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This