SPECIAL ADVISORY: In accordance with Yale University’s revised COVID-19 protocols, the Yale University Art Gallery will close to the public beginning Friday, October 16, 2020. Learn More

African Art

Weaving Loom Pulley Surmounted by a Human Head with Birds Beak

late 19th–early 20th century


5 3/4 in. (14.61 cm) base+object: 7 × 3 × 2 1/8 in. (17.78 × 7.62 × 5.4 cm)
Gift of Robert Liebowitz

A crucial element of a weaver’s loom, pulleys serve as a support for the heddles (small cords or wires) that are alternatively raised and lowered by a weaver to control his warp thread. Among the Baule and their neighbors, pulleys such as this one are subject to intense artistic focus. The spiritual dimension of the weaving process is emphasized by the inclusion of the masquerade figure with his hands on his stomach wearing a removable goli glin mask, a symbol of the wild forces of the forest. Through his art, a weaver draws upon these forces and brings them into order, just as he transforms cotton into cloth.

Country Ivory Coast
On view*
19th–20th century
Tools and Equipment

Ben Heller Collection. Gift of Robert Liebowitz to Yale University Art Gallery in 2011


“Acquisitions,” https://artgallery.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Pub_Bull_acquisitions_2012.pdf (accessed December 21, 2012).

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.