The Guro were indigenous occupants of the west-central area in Cote d'Ivoire. In the 18th century their territory was invaded by the Baule. Hence certain stylistic similarities exist.
The Guro heddle-pulley's indigenous name is kono. This head, surmounted by an open bowl, represents an unmarried woman according to the hairstyle, bringing food to the weaver who is always a man (although women do the spinning). The bowl has two holes either side to hang the pulley from. An extension on the back of the head provides another hanging point to fit the pulley to the loom. The heddles of a loom are moved up and down by the weaver's feet and the strings to which they are attached have to run over a small wheel in the pulley, to separate alternate warps in a horizontal loom.
Height=25cm ... ..... photo E.Fischer "GURO", 2008.
The Guro produced very few figurines, but very characteristic and magnificent masks. This highly developed skill spilled over into the decoration of heddle pulleys, of which many were made and needed. Particular characteristics of the faces carved onto the pulleys are the small mouth, a narrow/long nose as well as face, thin neck, half-closed eyes and curved coiffure. Rough leaves were used to polish the carving, which was then stained in a bath of boiled bark or leaves and rubbed with palm oil to give the wood a warm dark finish.
This heddle pulley was discovered in a dealer's collection in Cape Town in 1981. The Lippel Gallery in Montreal, Canada owns an almost identical example. It would not appear to be unreasonable to suggest that both pulleys come from the same workshop and even from the same hand.