Bakari Coulibaly, Koulé from Dickodougou, *ca. 1965

Senufo sculptures Senoufo Syonfolo Tugubele Kpelie Coulibaly
Overview of sculptures by Bakari Coulibaly, Dickodougou

No doubt, Bakari Coulibaly is the most spectacular carver and is the leading Senufo master these days. He learned from his famous father, Drissa Coulibaly (*ca. 1940), who does not carve anymore since the 1990ies. Bakari now lives in his 50ies in Dickodougou, south of Korhogo, Ivory Coast. Bakari stopped carving in 2016, he now works as a farmer for his basic income. Till today father and son are one of the most popular artists of Ivory Coast. The skills and abilities from both carvers are outstanding, but Bakaris feeling for shape, form, composition and proportion is unsurmountable. His extremely decorative style is inimitatable. Every piece is different and unique. Bakari ones said, that it takes up to three weeks to carve a mask.

Masks he made for his village from his late period show an extremely shaped forehead, which nearly look like a woman's breast. Masks he made earlier have a more round forehead. Bakari repeated masks that got replaced from the shrine. A shrine of a village holds up to 30 masks. Every 7 years the Tugebele spirits got asked about their power. In case a mask has no power or is damaged, there will be a new mask made, sometimes looking exactly the same.

Bakaris style truely can be described as flamboyand. It is not exactly to determine when he was born, information differ (persumibly around 1965, he still lives in Dickodougou). His father Drissa still lives in Korhogo, but he is very ill. But for sure it is to say, that Bakari is a constantly strong and innovative carver of the traditional Senufo style. Karl-Heinz Krieg did documentate early masks made by Bakari.


Kpelié mask by Bakari Coulibaly, Dickodougou, Senufo art

Kpelié mask, carved by Bakari Coulibaly, Koulé from Dickodougou.

 

43,0 x 15,0 x 13,0 cm, wood.

 

Literature:

- Wenn Neuordnung Ordnung schafft, Markus Ehrhard, pages 136 - 138.

 

Kpelié mask by Bakari Coulibaly, Dickodougou, Senufo art

Kpelié mask, carved by Bakari Coulibaly, Koulé from Dickodougou.

 

42,0 x 16,5 x 11,0 cm, wood.

 

Literature:

- Wenn Urform Form bestimmt, Markus Ehrhard, pages 152 -155.

 


Kpelié mask by Bakari Coulibaly, Dickodougou, Senufo art

Kpelié mask, carved by Bakari Coulibaly, Koulé from Dickodougou.

 

40,0 x 13,0 x 10,5 cm, wood.

 

Literature:

not published yet

 

Kpelié mask, carved by Bakari Coulibaly, Koulé from Dickodougou.

 

42,5 x 16,0 x 11,5 cm, wood. 783 Gramm.

 

Literature:

not published yet

 

 



Comparing these four outstanding Kpelié masks you see a similar construction and composition. All are perfectly synchronic and equal. At first, there is a good case to believe that Bakari worked with templates of successful masks, but meassuring them, they are different in lenght proportions. All faces have the same construction, the pair of legs have different decorations but are carved in the same characteristic shape. The Kapok fruit shaped centrepieces show also equal faces, presumably Tugubele spirits. And on top, every mask ends with a filigreed head. The hatching on the decorations elements on both sides of the masks are very precise, like carved with a ruler. Every mask has different created decorations, that show the immense variety of carving techniques Bakari is able to do. The wood of all four masks is very dense, but they are light in weight. The back is caved extremely deep. Bakaris tools are the traditional hatchets and small knives.

Kpelié mask, carved by Bakari Coulibaly, Koulé from Dickodougou.
Kpelié mask, carved by Bakari Coulibaly, Koulé from Dickodougou.

Left: Back of the Kpelié mask, carved by Bakari Coulibaly, Koulé from Dickodougou, with a special setup that fits perfectly on face and nose.

 

Right: Top of the Kpelié mask with a filigreed Tugubele spirit.

 

40,0 x 13,0 x 10,5 cm, wood.

 

Literature:

not published yet

 


This doublefaced Kpelié (Yêchikpleyégué) is a fantastic example that "less is not more". Bakari decorated every line of this perfectly carved mask. And not only that, the composition is balanced as the perfect symmetry. In general, Bakari's masks are large in size, around 40 cm and larger. This double faced Kpelié is in comparison with 33,5 cm a small mask.

 

Yêchikpleyégué (doublefaced Kpelié) mask, carved by Bakari Coulibaly, Koulé from Dickodougou.

 

33,5 x 15,0 x 9,5 cm, wood. 413 Gramm.

 

Literature:

not published yet

 

 


Senufo Kpelie mask masque Senoufo
Senoufo art, Senufo mask Kpelié
Kpelié mask by Bakari Coulibaly, Dickodougou

For a master like Bakari Coulibaly even a mask like this is a masterpiece beyond comparison. Kpelié masks are not rare masks. Between Senufo carvers there is a competition, which mask is the most impressive and beautiful one.

This mask was propably made during his strongest time as an artist, persumibly his father Drissa did work on this too. The patina does persume an antique mask. Thought this mask seems overloaded with decoration and delicate features, the composition and arrangement appears calm and balanced. The dynamic curved horns are complex itself. Top, again, is the central statue of a female Tugubele spirit, that on it's own is perfect. The shoulders are wing shaped, which is a typical sign for an antique mask.

 

Kpelié mask, carved by Bakari Coulibaly, Koulé from Dickodougou. 38,0 x 15,5 x 10,0 cm, wood.

 

Literature:

- Wenn Urform Form bestimmt, Markus Ehrhard, pages 160 - 163.

 

Masterpiece Senufo Kpelié Senoufo Kpelie masque mask
Kpelié mask by Bakari Coulibaly, Dickodougou

Senufo Kpelie mask masken Senoufo Coulibaly
Kpelié mask by Bakari Coulibaly, Dickdougou
Senufo Kpelie mask Senoufo masque art
Kpelié mask by Bakari Coulibaly, Dickodougou

This mask carved by Bakari Coulibaly represents an own genre in the group of Kpelié masks. It does not look like a typical Kpelié, but it belongs to the type of Kpelié.

The oustanding and pulled-up horns, in many cases hold by the centre figure, show an animal subject. But there is no confirmed information about this certain genre, nor what species of animal is shown.

The back of this mask with the fixing wholes do show authentic sign of usage and patina.

 

Kpelié mask, carved by Bakari Coulibaly, Koulé from Dickodougou. 37,5 x 15,0 x 11,0 cm, wood.

 

Literature:

- Wenn Urform Form bestimmt, Markus Ehrhard, pages 156 - 159.


Syonfolo Senufo Senoufo cavalier horserider statue
Syonfolô by Bakari Coulibaly, Dickodougou
Syonfolo cavalier Senoufo Senufo statue art
Syonfolô by Bakari Coulibaly, Dickodougou

The horserider is a classic statue in every repertoire of a Senufo carver. To carve a horse in combination with a human figure efforts certain skills for shape, proportion and composition. Often the horse is carved very small.

Syonfolô statues are used by diviners, they are never owned by a private person. These statues symbolize power, so the silhouette of a good Syonfolô is A-shaped and represents hierachy and a commanding structure by shape.

Bakari Coulibaly carved this Syonfolô in a remarkable architecture. The curved lines in the saddle or back of the rider give this statue a dynamic stance. Characteristic for Bakaris horse riders are the extremely shaped and exalted decorated hats. These braided farmers hats are called Tefala-Ndong and do not only protect, they are symbol of wisdom of a wise farmer.

 

Syonfolô, carved by Bakari Coulibaly, Koulé from Dickodougou. 43,0 x 28,5 x 10,0 cm, wood.

 

Literature:

- Wenn Urform Form bestimmt, Markus Ehrhard, pages 150 - 151.

 


Tugubele Senufo Sennoufo statue art
Tugubele statue by Bakari Coulibaly, Dickodougou
Tugubele statue Senufo art Senoufo statuette
Tugubele statue by Bakari Coulibaly, Dickodougou

Bakari Coulibaly carved this 95 cm tall female Tugubele statue for the Tienporg, the secret society of women of Fodonon (subgroup of Senufo) in Waraniéné, southwest of Korhogo.

It is the largest documentated statue made by his hands and it represents all features of the ideal of beauty of the Senufo. The decorative scars are deepend and also raised carved. The spirit is wearing jewelry around neck, arms and ankles. And the feet are shaped small in proportion to the body. The hair style is complex and very decorative, especially from the side view. Some parts of the head had to be restored. The whole silhouette is very elegant. The workmanship is remarkable and shows the particularity and distinctiveness of this special Tugubele statue.

 

Female Tugubele, carved by Bakari Coulibaly, Koulé from Dickodougou. for the Tienporg (secret society) of Fodonon (subgroup of Senufo in the southwest of Korhogo) in Waraniéné. 95,0 x 23,0 x 26,5 cm, wood.

 

Literature:

- Wenn Urform Form bestimmt, Markus Ehrhard, pages 164 - 167.