A Baule double mask/twin mask/Baule Nda, two faces are carved almost like Siamese twins in one block, both faces show the same mouth with the square lips, the goatee beard, the half-closed almond eyes, the long, narrow nose, the identical scarification marks on forehead and cheeks and the zig-zag outline, only the hairstyle differs slightly due to the semi-spherical addition on the hair of the female part. On the back of the mask there is a continuous slit for vision. Several holes for fastening the mask bands to the head of the wearer, fine black patina with abrasion marks on the often touched areas like eyelids, nose and mouth, provenance Amadou Bouaflé.
If this mask is called Nda, it is because its purpose is to celebrate the joy of giving birth to twins, and to celebrate them in order to manifest the immense admiration of those around them. The Nda appears at regular intervals (with five or six other masks) as part of celebration ceremonies open to all, the names of which vary depending on the subgroups: ajusu, ajemble, ngblo or mblo. The Nda even becomes a part of everyday life for the flesh and blood twins that it evokes, symbolizes and values. As such, it falls within the category of portrait-masks (the Ndoma) bearing the surnames of people they honor. Indeed, doesn’t the word Ndoma itself mean “equivalence”, replica” or “a double of the person”? Essential fact: during a ceremony, the Nda mask is accompanied by the people it represents, who dance with the bearer and who are thus established as the living doubles of the work of art. If unavailable, they appoint “representatives”. Upon the death of the twins, these “substitutes” continue this service, but the mask is more often than not no longer part of dances.
Like a game of mirrors, the duplication is thus reflected, multiplied, magnified by the mask; for twinning is at the heart of Baule conceptions, entirely at odds with the bewilderment and heartbreak of European Romanticism surrounding the topic of the double. “For them, the concepts of complementarity and androgyny are founding notions” they like to couple beings by extolling harmony and symmetry on an aesthetic plane – as evidenced by the Asie usu couples (“genies of nature”) depicting a genie in its masculine/feminine duality, but also by the bifrons or hermaphrodite statuettes, which express the dual male and female nature of the person.
Amadou Bouaflé, during his performance 30.12.2019 in his house Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
700 – 900,- Euro
Height: 29 cm
Weight: 820 g