Baule Sculpture of a Woman (Blolo Bla)

SKU PF.6202

20th Century AD


14.25″ (36.2cm) high




Ivory Coast

Gallery Location

S Korea


Blolo, the other world, is the realm of spirits. It is where newborn babies come from and where we depart to upon death. Although our world and the spirit world are distinct and separate regions, they occasionally over lap and influence each other. This sculpture represents a spouse from the spiritual world, called a Blolo Bla (Blolo Blian if masculine). Baule people believed that every person has such a spouse. It manifests itself through a series of dreams, usually sexual in nature, and is believed to be responsible for practical and spiritual problems that arise in the life of that individual, specifically those of a sexual nature, i.e. impotence, sterility, pregnancy difficulties, etc. Once carved under the direction of a village diviner, the statue is kept in the person’s room, away from the public and is rubbed with oils, offered food and honored with other sacrifices.

It is easy to fall in love with this gorgeous sculpture. She is the idealized form of feminine beauty, a lover we only know through dreams. She is a temporal vision of perfection made eternal through wood. She stands in a characteristic pose with her hands resting upon her belly alongside her protruding navel, her legs spread apart, and her knees slightly bent. Raised decorative scarification, visible on her back and front, served both as an indication of social rank as well as an enhancement of sexual desirability. Her finely molded face, rendered with the semi- circular eyes typical of the Baule style, is surmounted by an intricately styled coiffure. Her bosom and encrusted genitalia reveals her spiritual fertility that haunts our dreams. She is a maiden of our desires made tangible, lovingly embellished with a necklace and anklets of white glass beads, a final touch enhancing her outstanding beauty.

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