Igbo Alusi Male Shrine Figure, Nigeria #190 PROVENANCE

$ 6,800.00 $ 3,400.00

  • Igbo Male Alusi Male Shrine Figure, Nigeria #190
  • Measurements: 39'' x 11'' x 8'' (99 x 28 x 20 cm).
  • Provenance: Ex collection Sidney and Gae Berman collected in 1960's
  • Alusi are known as Protective Deities among the Igbo People. Alusi Spirits serve as Protectors of a particular person, group of people, place, gender or profession, according to the Igbo understanding and belief.
  • Alusi are believed to be the children or representatives of the High God Chuku. Sometimes depicted as life-size wooden figures, their Powers bring about good fortune or destruction.
  • Housed in elaborate enclosures, they are used to preside over Rituals. The largest figures in the Shrine are “Married Couples”, male and female large figures, smaller figures represent children.
  • This Alusi Figure, made of Iroko wood, stands in frontal position on heavy feet in non-naturalistic form, legs slightly spread, arms symmetrically arranged to the sides, free from the torso, forearms stretched forward, open hands with palms facing the sky, elongated neck with the head sitting on top, very straight chin line with mouth facing forward, Ichi Scarification deeply incised on the temples and forehead, repeated application of chalk or redwood causes encrustation of the surface.
  • In the past, these Deities were worshipped every Four Days. The Village Priest made Offerings in the form of food and drink in a Ceremony attended by the Village Elders and Leaders. The Offerings included chalk and kola nuts. Sometimes poultry, goats or sheep were also sacrificed. The “chaff”, i.e. the bodies of the sacrificed animals, served as a feast for these Deities, as the blood was said to be the preferred food of the Deities Themselves.
    During the annual “Feast of the Images”, village women painted and redecorated the Figures.
  • In some Igbo areas, the various Figures were scattered around the Community and housed in different Tribal Shrines, but were brought together annually for Festivals. On these occasions, up to twenty or thirty Effigies are gathered, surrounded by or adorned with title insignia such as staffs, caps, eagle feathers and jewelry. Worshippers place cola, chalk and coins at the feet of the Figures.
    The Guardian Figures are led through the City as a Sign of Respect. At the end of the Ceremony, the Figures are returned to their “Homes”, Shrines and Compounds.
  • Lit.: Igbo Arts: Community and Cosmos: Herbert M.Cole, Chike Cyril Aniakor; Igbo Monumental Sculptures From Nigeria: Bernard de Grunne; The Spirituality of the Igbo People of Nigeria as an Example of Religious Modernization in a Global World: Henry Chukwudi Okeke; Niger Ibos: A Description of the Primitive Life, Customs and Animistic Beliefs of the Ibo People of Nigeria: George Thomas Basden.