African Art
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Gong Mallets

19th to mid-20th century

Wood, brass tacks, cloth, and black pigment

a: 9 1/4 × 2 1/2 × 1 in. (23.5 × 6.4 × 2.5 cm)
b: 9 1/2 × 2 1/2 × 1 in. (24.1 × 6.4 × 2.5 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Osborn for the Linton Collection of African Art
1960.33.4a-b
The sounding of gongs was an integral part of the Baule divination process that permitted the ritual practitioner to enter a trancelike state. Gong mallets would have been individually struck against an iron gong known as a lawle, with the diviner holding the gong in one hand and a mallet in the other. These two mallets were made by the same artist, with matching handles carved to resemble twisted rope. Each offers a variation on a theme: the mallet in front is surmounted by a pair of masks and a crocodile, while the one in back shows a single goli glin helmet mask. The goli glin represents a mythical creature of the forest, and its inclusion here may refer to the raw and unlimited forces of nature that the diviner attempted to channel during his practice. The subtle asymmetry seen in these two works is characteristic of Baule art.
Geography: 
Côte d’Ivoire
Status: 
On view
Culture: 
Baule
Period: 
19th–20th century
Classification: 
Musical Instruments
Provenance: 

Dr. Ralph Linton (1893–1953), by 1953 [see note 1]; by descent to his wife, Adelin Hohlfield Linton (1899–1977); sold to Marie-Louise Montgomery Osborn (1905–1968) and James Marshall Osborn (1906–1976), 1954; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.,1960

Note 1: Ralph Linton was the Sterling Professor of Anthropology at Yale from 1946 until his death in 1953.

Bibliography: 

Susan Vogel, Baule: African Art, Western Eyes, exh. cat. (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1997), 229, ill.

Ralph Linton, The Linton Collection of African Sculpture: An Exhibition, March 13 through April 18, 1954, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1954), no. 45.

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.