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African Art

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
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.
Côte d’Ivoire
On view
19th–20th century
Musical Instruments

Dr. Ralph Linton, Sterling Professor of Anthropology at Yale, unknown date–1953
Mr. and Mrs. James M. Osborn donated to Yale University Art Gallery for the Linton Collection of African Art in 1960


The Linton Collection of African Sculpture, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1954), no. 45.

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

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.