Vintage Baule Slingshot from Ivory Coast, Africa
Slingshots are carried by young boys for hunting birds and bats in the forest, sources of protein in places where that is often scarce. The slings are made, usually, by the father of the boy (though more wealthy families will commission one from a professional carver.) The carvings protect the boy. Most carvings are of deities or spirits, always female. Masks abound, sometimes with the entire costume used in dance. Mask carvings function best as protectors when facing the source of danger, and “right-side up,” rather than upside down. For that reason, a sling will very often have two or more masks, facing in opposite directions. Other subjects for the carving enhance hunting power or the chances of success: guns, soldiers, Christian symbols, or powerful animals. Or, the boy may just ask for something he likes to be carved, like a soccer player; the variety is endless. The sling portion is usually rubber cut from old inner tubes.
This Slingshot measures 6.5" x 2.75"