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Baoule Kple Kple Mask
– Sometimes called “moon masks” even though they represent
the life-giving sun, they are formally known as Kple Kple masks,
the name of the spirit they also depict.
(H) 48 cm (W) 24 cm
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Goli is a traditional African dance and masquerade of the
Baoulé people of the Ivory Coast. A single performance of a goli last a day.
The goli originated among the Wan people, neighbours of the Baoulé.
It was adopted by the Baoulé between 1900 and 1910, perhaps in
response to the disruption caused by European colonialism.
Today it is the dominant traditional dance form, gradually replacing all others.
It may be performed on important occasions, such as funerals, or for entertainment.
The two dancers in a goli wear four different types of traditional masks in
a prescribed order: first the disc-shaped kple kple, then the
antelope-and-crocodile-inspired goli glen, then the ram-horned
kpan pre and finally the human-faced kpan with crested hair.
The masks have complex symbolism. In each stage, one mask is “male”
and another “female”, although the differences between them are subtle,
since they represent aspects of one individual. For example,
the male kple kple is red and the female is black. The kple kple and
the goli glen together constitute the “female” half of the dance,
while the later masks are “male”.
Each mask is also conceived of as having male and female aspects.
The mask called Kple Kple, who represents the buffalo god Goli
and is the most sacred mask of the Baoulé pantheon,
is a mask appearing only on special occasions.
Goli is the son of Nyamien, the god of heaven,
he is a protective deity and the mask represents a mediator who
works to establish a link between the invisible and the visible.
The Kplè Kplè is always made up of a pair of masks, the male is depicted
with a dark facial mask, usually blue or black, while the female mask
is usually red; both wear a costume that is entirely made of raffia fringes.
The male mask also has a flat face, the eyes usually have an oval shape
and the mouth is rectangular; furthermore, the mask also has two
horns on his head, representing the power, strength, and horns
of the buffalo god, while the round head represents the sun.
When they dance these masks move at an impressive speed,
raising the dust and creating a hypnotic effect; they are fascinating
and the music that accompanies their movements dictates the rhythm of the dance.
In Africa dance is so deeply ingrained into village life there is
barely an activity not associated with some sort of body movement.
In fact, just about every tribe seems to have at
least one particular dance to help define their identity and beliefs.
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