Masque facial féminin de l'ensemble du Goli

Female Face Mask of the Goli Group

Kplekple belongs to a group of various types of mask known as goli and considered a family. The father is goli glin, a zoomorphic mask, and the mother the anthropomorphic kpwan; a mask of similar design called kpwan kple represents their daughter, and kplekple represents their son. Occasionally there are two kplekple masks - one painted black and considered masculine, called kplekple yaswa and the other painted red, the feminine kplekple bla.
The Baule adopted this masquerading tradition in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century from the neighboring Wan, whose language is still used today in the performers’ songs. The goli appear at times of danger, as during epidemic or at funeral ceremonies. They are considered intercessors with supernatural forces, or amwin which can have a positive influence on human affairs, or, if not appeased, a negative one. Kplekple, the lowest ranking of the goli masqueraders, appears at dawn and again, briefly, during the early afternoon and evening, to announce the arrival of goli glin or kpwan. The mask is worn by young men with a goatskin over their back, who perform a lively dance to music and the singing of children and adolescents.

Kplekple masks are marked by a high degree of stylization and minimal detail. The curve of their disc-shaped face is echoed by the horns, based on those of an antelope. In some examples, ears, spiral horns, eyes inset with bits of mirror, and contour decoration are found. Yet even these minimal design elements are missing from this extremely simplified mask, whose reddish-brown finish characterizes it as femal in gender.