A mystery figure from the Vérité Collection

Image courtesy of the Africarium collection.

Image courtesy of the Africarium collection.

Even after many hours of research, the above figure remains an enigma to me. It was once sold as Baule, but its extraordinary size (98 cm high) is very a-typical for Baule anthropomorphic statuary. Focusing on the hairdo, Attié has been suggested. Clearly this figure is very old, perhaps even older than we think. Such an eroded state is also not something one easily encounters in Ivory Coast sculpture. The biggest mystery might be the presence of the large cavity at the center of the back – see the pictures below. So if you have any suggestions about the origin of this figure, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Image courtesy of the Africarium collection.

Image courtesy of the Africarium collection.

Image courtesy of the Africarium collection.

Image courtesy of the Africarium collection.

UPDATE: a reader was so kind to mail me this male Baule figure from the Herbert Baker collection, which, at 105 cm, is even taller. The back of the figure apparently is as eroded, though the face obviously is in a much better condition and has some kind of crown on top. Next to size, the elongated body and small hands are indeed very similar to the Vérité figure. But if our figure is indeed Baule, what about the cavity?

Herbert Baker Baule figure

UPDATE 2: Several people have suggested Mbembe (looking at the arms, hair and surface)