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Art Collection

The Balmes hotel has a collection of pieces of Sub-Saharan African art on display in its lobby. This vast area in Africa extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, with the art coming primarily from the so-called Sudanese region.

There are three-dimensional wooden masks and sculptures that are used by the majority of black African ethnic groups, which are representations or embodiments of the mythical and ancestral beings that the community associates with their own history, as well as other spirits or supernatural forces that exercise power over the group.

Within the collection, noteworthy pieces include the masks from the Soninke (Mali, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Mauritania and Senegal) and Baule (Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire) ethnic groups, as well as the ibeji—anthropomorphic figures that normally come in pairs of the opposite sex that are made upon the birth of twins and represent the hundreds of spirits to whom people pray and make offerings—from Yoruba groups (southwest Nigeria, Benin and Togo). Also on display is a reliquary—stylised wooden figures coated in metal (copper or brass) that protect the dead (their spirits) against witchcraft and any sort of evil—from the Kota people (Gabon and the Republic of the Congo).