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Monkey-Like Figure

African Art

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Monkey-Like Figure

Artwork Details


Baule Artist, Ivory Coast


Twentieth century



Accession #



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Currently Not on View


Within Baule sculptural traditions, monkey-like figures such as this one serve a variety of purposes and are known by different names according to their place of origin. Such sculptures are usually no more than two feet tall—this example is unusually large—with a square muzzle, pointed teeth, and cupped hands held in front of the body. Some even grasp a cup. The sculptures are always male and typically wear a loincloth made of actual fabric. They are used for divination and for the spiritual protection of families and larger social units. Considered too powerful to be displayed publicly, their creation and use is shrouded in secrecy. In both form and function they share many similarities with the sacred masks reserved for Baule men. Both synthesize human and animal forms and are considered dangerous to women. This sculpture, while roughly hewn, is carved with considerable expressive force.


Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Burton Tremaine