Bush Spirit: Asye Usu
Late 19th-early 20th century
Baule peoples, Côte d'Ivoire
Wood, brass, glass, cloth, iron, pigment
Bequest of Victor K. Kiam, 77.232 (cat. 28)
The Baule make figure sculpture of two kinds, which, although stylistically similar, are used in very different ways. The first are used by diviners and are often displayed during sessions in which the diviner is possessed by a spirit and goes into a trance. The second represent an individual's spouse in the other world. Distinguishing the function of a Baule statue can be difficult; the main indication is the surface. Asye usu tend to show signs of sacrifices and to have encrusted or mottled surfaces. For this reason we can conclude that this figure was probably a diviner's statue, an asye usu or nature spirit.