Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Baulé Tribe Of Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) ...

The Baulé belong to the Akan peoples who inhabit Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. Three hundred years ago the Baulé people migrated westward from Ghana when the Asante rose to power. The tale of how they broke away from the Asante has been preserved in their oral traditions. During the Asante rise to power the Baulé queen, Aura Poku, was in direct competition with the current Asante king. When the Asante prevailed, the queen led her people away to the land they now occupy. The male descendant of Aura Poku still lives in the palace she established and is honored by the Baulé as their nominal king.

The Baulé grow yams and some maize as primary crops. They are also exporters of cocoa and kola nuts, which are grown on local plantations using large numbers of exploited migrant laborers, most from Burkina Faso. Many locally grown crops were introduced from the Americas during the Atlantic slave trade. These include maize, manioc, peppers, peanuts, tomatoes, squash, and sweet potatoes. They also raise farm animals including sheep, goats, chickens, and dogs. Markets which are primarily run by women take place every four days and are the center of the local economy. Local produce and craft items are sold alongside imported goods from all over the world.

The Baulé create art in several media, including wooden sculpture, gold and brass casting similar to their Asante ancestors, and mask and figure carving, which have been greatly influenced by their Senufo and Guro neighbors.

The Baulé have a highly centralized government with a king or chief at the top who inherits his position along matrilineal lines. There are various subchiefs in charge of his local populations, and all the chiefs rely on political advisors who help in the decision making process. The Goli association is the primary mask association, which provides social order among the Baulé.

Religion includes both ancestor worship and a heirarchy of nature gods. Nature spirits and spirit spouses are often represented in sculpture. Their creator god is Alouroua, who is never physically represented.

Article and image borrowed from Lotus Masks & World Imports