late 1800s–early 1900s
Part of a set. See all set records
Wood, resin, glass beads, plant fiber, and metal
Part 1: 49.5 x 9.1 x 13 cm (19 1/2 x 3 9/16 x 5 1/8 in.); Part 2: 47.7 x 10 x 11 cm (18 3/4 x 3 15/16 x 4 5/16 in.)
Gift of Katherine C. White 1971.297
Baule artists looked to the world around them to capture contemporary ideas and ideals of beauty; these figures have hairstyles that would have been worn when the sculptures were carved.
Baule figures carved as pairs usually represent untamed spirits of the wilderness called asye usu. These spirits may intervene in the lives of individuals by taking possession of them. If this possession does not result in madness, it can lead to the human host’s becoming a diviner who can enter into a trance to reveal the causes of ailments and other misfortunes. People who feel their lives are being interrupted by the asye usu commission carvings representing idealized male and female forms whose grace and beauty in both anatomy and adornment will seduce the spirits and compel them to use the sculptures as their temporary homes.
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