Baule peoples
c. 1920
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General Description

The Baule are essentially an egalitarian people who live in independent villages and vest authority in "notables." These dignitaries lead a cluster of villages and are distinguished by gold regalia, including crowns, jewelry, handheld objects, flywhisks, and footwear. The regalia may be made of pure gold or wood covered with gold leaf.

Made of imported velvet, Baule crowns take the form of a pillbox or narrow headband and are decorated with figurative or geometric gold-leafed wooded plaques that have meaning. The rectangular plaques on this crown represent a bamboo door (srala) that is hung at the entrance to a bedroom in traditional village houses. As a screen "sees" both inside and outside the bedroom, a notable must know all that is happening within his village and beyond. This pillbox crown is topped with an elephant, a metaphor for political leadership.

Adapted from

  • Roslyn A. Walker, Label text, Arts of Africa, 2015.

  • Roslyn A. Walker, The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art (New Haven and London" Yale University Press, 2009): 68-69.