Male Figure from a Pair (asye usu)

late 1800s–early 1900s
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Baule artists looked to the world around them to capture contemporary ideas and ideals of beauty; this figure's hairstyle would have been worn when the sculpture was 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.
Male Figure from a Pair (asye usu)

Male Figure from a Pair (asye usu)

late 1800s–early 1900s

Africa, West Africa, Côte d’Ivoire, Baule-style carver

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