+1 315 655 8989

5261 Irish Ridge Road Chittenango, NY 13037

Large Baule Aise Usu Spirit Mate Statues Pair | 23"


These statues are versions of spirit mates (bolo bla for females and bolo bian for males), known as bush spirits (asie usu). Such figures may look like pairs when they appear together in any particular family but this is really accidental. As with other spirt mates, a person having any kind of trouble at all consults a diviner, who then determines how the problem may have arisen. One possibility is that a bush spirit may be identified as the cause. The bush spirit, wishing to take human form, be it male or female, and reside in the village, wants to inhabit this human form. The bush spirit makes its desire known by manifesting the problem the person is having. That person then is obliged to have a figure carved in which that spirit will reside. This creates for the Baule people a pathway between the physical and spiritual worlds. If another family member has a similar episode it may end up with a figure of the opposite gender. In this way a pair appears, even though it has no significance as a “couple”. They are just both called forth as solutions to problems people in that family are having, providing a means by which the Baule come to understand the cause of their problems, how to solve them and what the future holds for them. The Baule, being a matrilineal people, like all Akan Peoples, often represent women figures larger than males to represent their relative importance in the society.

These sculptures are from the region of Sakassou, the middle of Baule culture. These statues are exceptional in design and quality of artistic execution. Their very fine details are evidence of the skill of the carvers who made them.
We are grateful to Dr. Martha J. Ehrlich, Professor Emerita of Art History, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (SIUE), for providing this very valuable explanation.

These figures measure:
Male: 6" x 5" x 22"
Female: 6" x 6" x 23.5"