U5B0O643.jpg (52060 bytes)Baule (Baoule, Bawule) Côte d’Ivoire

Vessel for the mouse oracle. Around 1 million Baule occupy a part of the eastern Cote d’Ivoire that is both forest and savanna land. Baule society was characterized by extreme individualism, great tolerance, a deep aversion toward rigid political structures, and a lack of age classes, initiation, circumcision, priests, secret societies, or associations with hierarchical levels. Each village was independent from the others and made its own decisions under the presiding presence of a council of elders. The Baule are agriculturists; yams are the staple, supplemented by fish and game; coffee and cocoa are major cash crops. A headman and a council of elders handle village affairs. Baule art is sophisticated and stylistically diverse. Inside the carved receptacle, a device composed of sticks records the movements of mice. Mouse divination is one of several divination techniques used in Baule society. The natural proximity of mice to the earth’s surface permits them to gain access to the ancestors, thus enabling them to foretell events. Boxes for the mouse oracle (in which sticks are disturbed by a live mouse, to give the augury) are unique to the Baule.

Material: wood

Size: 12”x 8½”x 8½”

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