Goli (Entertainment Mask)

Kpwan Pre (Junior Female)

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


The Baule of modern day Ivory Coast perform a number of dances for village entertainment; one such performance is known as goli. A recent import from the Wan ethnic group (believed to come into use among the Baule after 1910), goli is a day long celebration usually performed during the funeral of high ranking and respected community members. Sources point to the goli dance providing not only entertainment but also protection for the village in which it is performed.

Baule goli performances consist of four red/black, male/female dance mask pairs appearing in a pre-defined order. According to Susan Vogel, the masks appear in the following social order:

  • First, a pair of disk masks called kple kple (the junior male; representing youth and weakness),
  • Second, a pair of animal helmet masks called goli glin (the 'father' or ancestors; representing strength, amwim bush spirits and forest buffalo),
  • Third, a pair of horned masks called kpan pre (the junior female; representing girls),
  • and Fourth, two human-faced masks with crested coiffure called kpwan (the senior female, representing goli glin's wife, the ideal woman).

Kpwan pre (the third set of goli masks; also called kpwan kple, kpan pre or kpan kple) is believed to be a depiction of the youngest member of the family and represents the fusion between the untamed animal world and the human world represented by kpwan. Kpwan pre masks are usually danced by boys aged between seventeen and twenty. When not in use, goli masks are kept in the bush.

Distinguishing Features

  • Male masks painted black; female masks are red
  • Humanistic in nature
  • Two horns placed on top of head
    • Horns curving backwards
  • High forehead
  • Concave, elongated face
  • Arched eyebrows and eyelids
  • Downcast eyelids
  • Big eyes
    • Eyes not drilled (wearer looking through opening of mouth)
  • Long slender nose
  • Small round mouth, pierced
  • Some have raised scarification marks on forehead, on temples and on corners of mouth
  • Face framed by disc-shaped beard with flat zigzag pattern
  • ‘Bite bar’ inserted on back of mask
  • Wide collar

Share this