Bobine en Bois West African Baule Heddle Pulley With Carved Figure
In Africa there is art in everything, including utilitarian items. This exquisitely carved antique, wood carved heddle pulley was used to wind thread and it uniquely identifies and represents the group or family it was made for.
Baule people and their neighbors to the West, the Guro, are famous as weavers, and are known for their woven cotton fabrics. Heddle pulleys are functional objects used to ease the movements of the heddles while separating the warp threads and allowing the shuttle to seamlessly pass through the layers of thread. Like many other carved objects used in everyday activities among the Baule, these pulleys were often embellished for the weaver’s delight. Scholars have suggested that the prominent display of pulleys, hanging over the weaver’s loom in the public place, afforded artists their best opportunity to showcase their carving skills, in the hope to attract commissions for figures and masks. This figurative pulley with carved a head demonstrates the efforts put by Baule and Guro artists into beautifying the simplest functional object.
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