[Baule.Net is an internet reference platform for the presentation and exchange of information about the history and art of the Baule peoples of West Africa. Links are provided here to current and past research when it is accessible in online image, video or text formats.]
Guinea – c. 1613 – Mercator-Hondius, Amsterdam
Seventeenth century Dutch map of West Africa with insert of Isle St. Thome.
The Baule peoples inhabit what is now the central part of the Ivory Coast in West Africa. Dutch maps of the seventeenth century begin to designate a place name or a group name — “Bacorees” — that may well refer to these peoples, but more research is required on the pre-colonial history of the Baule to be able to conclude this with greater certainty. [T. C. Weiskel, (1978). The Precolonial Baule: A Reconstruction (Le Baule précolonial: Reconstruction). Cahiers D’Études Africaines, 18 (72), 503-560. Available online from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4391626. This Mercator-Hondius map uses the term “Bacorees” to name a region or people to the interior of the of what became known during the slave trade as the “Ivory Coast.”]
It is regrettable, however, that as yet little is known in detail about the history of the Baule prior to the military occupation of their territory by the French at the end of the 19th century. Efforts were made at that time and in the early 20th century by French observers to record contemporary political information and establish an account of the prior history of the region, largely through the work of Maurice Delafosse, an early colonial officer in the Ivory Coast.
Recently, admirable historical research has been conducted to assemble and assess the various accounts of oral traditions collected over much of the twentieth century concerning the circumstances of their emergence as a group during the period of the Atlantic slave trade. [See particularly, F. Viti, (2009). Les ruses de l’oral, la force de l’écrit. Le mythe baule d’Aura Poku (The Smartness of Orality, the Power of Literacy. The Baule Myth of Aura Poku).Cahiers D’Études Africaines, 49(196), 869-892. Available online from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40380041 ].
As the Dutch maps became more elaborate the place name or people name was repeated in map after map, sometimes with smaller lettering, sometimes with larger letters. A more detailed coastal map of