The Baule (or Baoulé) are an Akan people and one of the largest groups in Ivory Coast, migrating from Ghana. Legend goes that in the 17th century the Baoulé left present day Ghana and traveled west into present day Côte d’Ivoire under the lead of the Queen Pokou. According to oral tradition, the Baoulé were forced to leave Ghana when the Ashanti rose to power. While they were fleeing for their lives they came to the Komoe river which they were unable to cross. With their enemies chasing them they began to throw their most prized possessions into the river. It came to the Queen’s attention that their most valuable possession was her son. The Queen realized that she had to sacrifice her son to the river and threw him in. Upon doing so hippopotami rose from the river and allowed them to cross, saving their lives. After crossing, the Queen was so upset about losing her son that all she could say was “baouli,” meaning: the child is dead. From that point on they were known as the Baoulé.
This mask is one of several that appear in the Goli spirit dance. The very characteristic, round-shaped “lunar” goli is surmounted by two horns. This mask is made in a simple disk-shaped design and lacks the more complex form and ornamentation that the Baule admire in their important masks.