Baule Wooden Staff

SKU PF.6161

19th Century AD to 20th Century AD


63.25″ (160.7cm) high




Ivory Coast

Gallery Location

S Korea


Staffs are a symbol of kingly authority, associated with rulers for centuries in cultures all over the world. This regal staff shows an elongated figure seated upon a stool, the penultimate sign of authority in Africa. He is elegantly sculpted, showing signs of ritual usage suggesting that this staff was a treasured item used during ceremonial events. The long handle of the staff is formed by a series of inverted conical objects stacked upon each other. Decorated with abstract linear patterns, these objects appear to be drums. One can see the wooden pegs and woven fabric that would have secured the stretched hides into place. If these objects are indeed drums, their presence certainly reinforces the ceremonial aspect of this staff, hinting of the pounding rhythms and graceful dancers that would have marked such a special occasion. Perhaps this figure represents someone of revered status, perhaps an idealized ancestor or idolized deity. He wears a beaded belt, a symbol of both wealth and rank. His expression is quite pensive and meditative, as he strokes his long, matted beard. This type of beard is characteristic of chiefs, insinuating that this figure is in fact a proud chief, sitting in counsel, dispensing wisdom with authority and compassion. The entire object exudes a sense of power and grandeur in its elegant form, crowned by a figure of great dignity, power, and beauty.

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