Baule Female Spirit Spouse Côte d'Ivoire
This intricately carved female figure originates from the Baule people of Ivory Coast, renowned for their exquisite craftsmanship. Baule figure sculptures are categorized into two groups: one representing wild spirits, known as asie usu, dwelling beyond village limits, and the other embodying 'spirit world' spouses for their owners. Despite symbolizing bush spirits, the asie usu are depicted with alluring forms. These figures were employed by trance diviners called komien and housed in shrines within the diviner's home, where the bush spirit could inhabit or symbolically reside within the figure. Alongside this figure's idealized beauty, other shrine objects might be uncarved, with simple clay marks, or vessels containing magical elements. Traditionally covered in white clay to convey otherworldliness or spirituality, these diviners would conduct public performances where the spirit would possess them or offer private counsel near their shrine.
Approximate Age: Mid 20th Century