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The Baule possess a figure with the head of a monkey representing one of the humbler gods. It is called Gbekre or Mbotumbo, a god with several tasks, for he is both judge of hell and helper of those in need, protector of the living against their enemies. These so-called “mendicant monkey” figures are very different in style of other Baule sculptures. If the ancestor-cult statues are often characterized by refined and detailed carving, the wood stained and often polished, the gbekre are very different. They are roughly carved in unstained wood. They combine human and animal traits in such a way that it is nearly impossible to separate them. Besides, they are used for many different cults, for a trance divination cult among them. Women are forbidden to see some of them, others are openly shown.
This sculpture was among 30+items from our collection filmed in "Wonderstruck" - an upcoming American drama film directed by Todd Haynes. The film stars Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams was shown at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and in wide release in the US in the Fall-Winter of 2017.