The Baule use three major types of masks: a helmet in the shape of a buffalo head, masks related only to the Goli festival and the masks representing a human face with fairly realistic features. The masks of the last group are used in mblo entertainment dances and are one of the oldest of Baule art forms. Such a mask is usually a portrait of a particular known individual. The faces are idealized. Ornaments above the face have no iconographic significance. These masks denote personal beauty, refinement, and a desire to give pleasure to others. The greater importance of the portrait masks, the need for the best dancers to wear them, and the requirement that the portrait’s subject also be available and willing to dance made them more rarely performed than animal masks, which could be worn by young, relatively inexperienced dancers.
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