Colonial figures from the Baule Tribe of the Ivory Coast, West Africa.
“Colonial” figures are carved Eurpoean-like spirit mates. When a person (a woman in most instances) described their other-world mates to the carver to embody them, they revealed their ideal mates as manifesting these European (mostly French Colonial) characteristics. For example, if a woman wanted an athletic husband, she might have a soccer player carved; or if she wished for a bus driver, businessman or pilot, she might have one of these carved. These figures illustrate how the Ivory Coast Baule interpret and reinterpret the colonial presence in art.
Originally these figures were intended as icons, symbols of social status, evident through the use of brightly colored paints. Today, these colonial representations symbolize far more than the material exchange between the West and Africa; they represent the linkages between and perceptions of the colonizer and the colonized. They are kept in small shrines, lovingly cared for. They are often used as fetishes to attract a member of the opposite sex with qualities that one desires.
Dimension: 7 X 49cm Height