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Re: [African_Arts] Baule Kple Kple - question on form

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  • Veronique Martelliere
    Bonjour Andrew, i agree with your friend in the US. As far as i know, the variability in the structure of a KpleKple mask is very low : it is round and
    Message 1 of 5 , Sep 6, 2010
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    Bonjour Andrew,
    i agree with your friend in the US. As far as i know, the variability in the structure
    of a KpleKple mask is very low : it is round and flat, made in a rather light wood,
    the horns are vertical and nearly form a circle - and the only meaningful difference
    is that it is coloured in red or black.
    so, it seems to me that there is a lack of conformity in :
    > the structure behind the mask
    > the horns
    > the colour
    i would take the beard as a detail - which would be ok if the rest of the mask was conform.
    And in all, my opinion is that this mask is 'too neat to be honest' (uniformity of the patina,
    no sign of use).
    Herewith, a photo of a KpleKple mask in action. The back of these masks might be supposed
    to have a lot of holes to attach the fibres ? i don't know. 
    Cheers
    Vero
     
     


    From: turley19at <andrew@...>
    To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
    Sent: Tue, September 7, 2010 1:12:42 AM
    Subject: [African_Arts] Baule Kple Kple - question on form

     

    About 6 months ago I purchased a Kple Kple mask and I would be interested in the groups perspective of the masks "form" and opinion. I bought it from a gallery in the US – from whom I have made several purchases previously (all of good quality authentically ritual pieces).

    I live in Australia so I have to look carefully at photographs and invest some trust in the vendor. But with this piece I have question marks against elements of the form.

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/871110963/pic/list

    I am particularly interested whether anyone has seen similarities in:
    beard construction on a Kple Kple
    horns shaped in such a manner – sweep and carving

    It is definitely heavier and more elaborate than the extremely simple Kple Kple displayed in reference books. I emailed a friend in the US and he wrote:

    "Form and elaboration all wrong. Too Complicated. They are always simple faces and simple horns, beards etc....To be specific, the long-hanging beard is too elaborate and the 4 triangles beard in front of it shouldn't exist on a Goli mask. I'm sure the deep, rich red surface is more a quality of the photograph then the actual piece. Also, the size and heftiness of the double set of horns doesn't exist on the old or even younger, real ones. Just too thick and Elaborate"

    Can anyone help out?

    Thanks in advance

    Andrew
    www.suagacollection.com.au

    Facebook
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fragments-of-Africa/157096650974287?


  • Lee Rubinstein
    Above: from the Brooklyn Museum Andrew: Although a simple protuberance from the chin can be seen in some examples of such kple kple masks (for example, the
    Message 2 of 5 , Sep 7, 2010
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      Above:  from the Brooklyn Museum

      Andrew:

      Although a simple protuberance from the chin can be seen in some examples of such kple kple masks (for example, the one pictured above from the Brooklyn Museum) as well as seemingly more commonly among Yaure masks, I don't recall any examples -- Baule or Yaure -- which display the type of beard(s) seen on your mask.  Braided beards do appear, as I am sure you are aware, on Baule male figures.  The four-triangle element which appears on the chin in front of the braided beard on your mask seems to echo the continuous frame which can be found more commonly on Yaure masks as well as the portrayal of beards on Baule bronze pendants.  Such framing embellishment does appear as an element of color rather than protuberance on this Baule kpan pre photographed by Eliot Elisofohn in Kondeyaokro (see link at Eliot Elisofohn Archives, NMAfA).

      As previously discussed, it is difficult in many instances to determine exclusive cultural attributions from among the inter-related and cross-influenced corpus of Baule, Yaure and Guro masks. Some previous discussions included those containing messages 874 [reproduced with images here] and 1475 [reproduced with images here.]  Generally speaking, the mask you presented seems to be a synthesis of elements from masks and figural portrayals from the region;  it is difficult, however, to determine under what circumstances and for what purpose the mask was created.  Perhaps someone can offer some insight into the combination of elements and/or the general structure of the mask?

      Lee 

      On Sep 7, 2010, at 2:17 AM, Veronique Martelliere wrote:

      [Attachment(s) from Veronique Martelliere included below]

      Bonjour Andrew,
      i agree with your friend in the US. As far as i know, the variability in the structure
      of a KpleKple mask is very low : it is round and flat, made in a rather light wood,
      the horns are vertical and nearly form a circle - and the only meaningful difference
      is that it is coloured in red or black.
      so, it seems to me that there is a lack of conformity in :
      > the structure behind the mask
      > the horns
      > the colour
      i would take the beard as a detail - which would be ok if the rest of the mask was conform.
      And in all, my opinion is that this mask is 'too neat to be honest' (uniformity of the patina,
      no sign of use).
      Herewith, a photo of a KpleKple mask in action. The back of these masks might be supposed
      to have a lot of holes to attach the fibres ? i don't know. 
      Cheers
      Vero
       
       


      From: turley19at <andrew@...>
      To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Tue, September 7, 2010 1:12:42 AM
      Subject: [African_Arts] Baule Kple Kple - question on form

       

      About 6 months ago I purchased a Kple Kple mask and I would be interested in the groups perspective of the masks "form" and opinion. I bought it from a gallery in the US – from whom I have made several purchases previously (all of good quality authentically ritual pieces).

      I live in Australia so I have to look carefully at photographs and invest some trust in the vendor. But with this piece I have question marks against elements of the form.

      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/871110963/pic/list

      I am particularly interested whether anyone has seen similarities in:
      beard construction on a Kple Kple
      horns shaped in such a manner – sweep and carving

      It is definitely heavier and more elaborate than the extremely simple Kple Kple displayed in reference books. I emailed a friend in the US and he wrote:

      "Form and elaboration all wrong. Too Complicated. They are always simple faces and simple horns, beards etc....To be specific, the long-hanging beard is too elaborate and the 4 triangles beard in front of it shouldn't exist on a Goli mask. I'm sure the deep, rich red surface is more a quality of the photograph then the actual piece. Also, the size and heftiness of the double set of horns doesn't exist on the old or even younger, real ones. Just too thick and Elaborate"

      Can anyone help out?

      Thanks in advance

      Andrew
      www.suagacollection.com.au

      Facebook
      http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fragments-of-Africa/157096650974287?




    • William Klebous
      Andrew, it s a gorgeous carving, so of course once again it comes down to why you bought it. From just the pics provided, without being able to handle the
      Message 3 of 5 , Sep 7, 2010
      • 0 Attachment
        Andrew, it's a gorgeous carving, so of course once again it comes down to why you
        bought it. From just the pics provided, without being able to handle the piece or see
        its interior, I don't think anyone would be able to endorse it as being particularly
        old or as having had extended ritual use. But on the other hand I don't agree with the
        comments you've received that the piece is in any way stylistically "wrong". It's a
        wonderful Baule carving with every element in keeping with that culture's artistic
        canon and with all those elements effectively harmonized into a pleasing form.

        The question for me is whether its 1) a sincere and brilliant one-off by a devoted
        Baule sculptor, 2) a brilliant but purely commercial offering by a talented sculptor
        in the Ivory Coast region (which nonetheless may have seen some ritual use),
        or 3) a completely insincere yet still brilliant one-off by a forger in Africa, China,
        or elsewhere.

        So my bottom line would be:

        If I paid small money for it and had any substantial reason to believe that it at
        least originated in the Baule region, I would definitely keep it. It's great.
        WAY more appealing than your average Kple.

        But if I paid big money for it, then I would dispute its sincerity based on the
        expert opinions you have thus far received, and then use my refund to invest
        in a more-probably-sincere, better documented piece.

         
        --- On Wed, 8/9/10, Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@...> wrote:

        From: Lee Rubinstein <LeeRubinstein@...>
        Subject: Re: [African_Arts] Baule Kple Kple - question on form
        To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
        Received: Wednesday, 8 September, 2010, 1:54 AM

        Above:  from the Brooklyn Museum

        Andrew:

        Although a simple protuberance from the chin can be seen in some examples of such kple kple masks (for example, the one pictured above from the Brooklyn Museum) as well as seemingly more commonly among Yaure masks, I don't recall any examples -- Baule or Yaure -- which display the type of beard(s) seen on your mask.  Braided beards do appear, as I am sure you are aware, on Baule male figures.  The four-triangle element which appears on the chin in front of the braided beard on your mask seems to echo the continuous frame which can be found more commonly on Yaure masks as well as the portrayal of beards on Baule bronze pendants.  Such framing embellishment does appear as an element of color rather than protuberance on this Baule kpan pre photographed by Eliot Elisofohn in Kondeyaokro (see link at Eliot Elisofohn Archives, NMAfA).

        As previously discussed, it is difficult in many instances to determine exclusive cultural attributions from among the inter-related and cross-influenced corpus of Baule, Yaure and Guro masks. Some previous discussions included those containing messages 874 [reproduced with images here] and 1475 [reproduced with images here.]  Generally speaking, the mask you presented seems to be a synthesis of elements from masks and figural portrayals from the region;  it is difficult, however, to determine under what circumstances and for what purpose the mask was created.  Perhaps someone can offer some insight into the combination of elements and/or the general structure of the mask?

        Lee 

        On Sep 7, 2010, at 2:17 AM, Veronique Martelliere wrote:

        [Attachment(s) from Veronique Martelliere included below]

        Bonjour Andrew,
        i agree with your friend in the US. As far as i know, the variability in the structure
        of a KpleKple mask is very low : it is round and flat, made in a rather light wood,
        the horns are vertical and nearly form a circle - and the only meaningful difference
        is that it is coloured in red or black.
        so, it seems to me that there is a lack of conformity in :
        > the structure behind the mask
        > the horns
        > the colour
        i would take the beard as a detail - which would be ok if the rest of the mask was conform.
        And in all, my opinion is that this mask is 'too neat to be honest' (uniformity of the patina,
        no sign of use).
        Herewith, a photo of a KpleKple mask in action. The back of these masks might be supposed
        to have a lot of holes to attach the fibres ? i don't know. 
        Cheers
        Vero
         
         


        From: turley19at <andrew@...>
        To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Tue, September 7, 2010 1:12:42 AM
        Subject: [African_Arts] Baule Kple Kple - question on form

         

        About 6 months ago I purchased a Kple Kple mask and I would be interested in the groups perspective of the masks "form" and opinion. I bought it from a gallery in the US – from whom I have made several purchases previously (all of good quality authentically ritual pieces).

        I live in Australia so I have to look carefully at photographs and invest some trust in the vendor. But with this piece I have question marks against elements of the form.

        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/African_Arts/photos/album/871110963/pic/list

        I am particularly interested whether anyone has seen similarities in:
        beard construction on a Kple Kple
        horns shaped in such a manner – sweep and carving

        It is definitely heavier and more elaborate than the extremely simple Kple Kple displayed in reference books. I emailed a friend in the US and he wrote:

        "Form and elaboration all wrong. Too Complicated. They are always simple faces and simple horns, beards etc....To be specific, the long-hanging beard is too elaborate and the 4 triangles beard in front of it shouldn't exist on a Goli mask. I'm sure the deep, rich red surface is more a quality of the photograph then the actual piece. Also, the size and heftiness of the double set of horns doesn't exist on the old or even younger, real ones. Just too thick and Elaborate"

        Can anyone help out?

        Thanks in advance

        Andrew
        www.suagacollection.com.au

        Facebook
        http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fragments-of-Africa/157096650974287?





         
      • turley19at
        Thank you all very much for the different perspectives and references for the kple kple. It is a piece that I felt a bond with straight away. And William, I
        Message 4 of 5 , Sep 9, 2010
        • 0 Attachment
          Thank you all very much for the different perspectives and references for the kple kple.

          It is a piece that I felt a bond with straight away. And William, I believe you are right, it isn't particularly old (circa 1980's), doesn't show signs of excessive ritual use but the form is particularly pleasing (too me at least).

          One of the biggest question marks I had was on the 1/2 diamond patterned edging around the upper face perimeter – in line with Veronique's comments about simplicity/variability of form – but have been gratified to find a few examples of very similar patterns in Susan Vogels books.

          And although the Kple Kple masks are both male and female (red for male and black for female) I read that the pair in the dance are essentially considered male which I assumed if it is authentic) was the reason a wrapped beard would be added (as Lee referred). I have seen examples of the wrapped beard on Baule Kpan masks (in the Indiana University Art Museum there is one) and on portrait masks all with the "ball" on the end but not with 5 edges (however I am scratching my head because I am sure I have seen it referenced before).

          The sweeping horns are magnificent with their carved lines, but not typical for the kple kple in reference books – although I have seen some regional styles very similar.

          Which ever way it ends up (and I might never know with any certainty) I agree with William "It's a wonderful carving" and it has its own power when you are in the room with it.

          And as I am a big believer of "buyer beware" whichever way it turns out, my collection will be better off in the long run.

          Thanks again for all your perspectives.

          Regards
          Andrew
          www.suagacollection.com

          www.facebook.com/pages/Fragments-of-Africa/157096650974287?
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