Baule asie usu statues are also known as “bush spirits”. It is believed that bush spirits reside in the asie usu statues. These statues are very similar to another Baule statue known as blolo bian. The most distinguishing difference is asie usu statues will typically have an encrusted patina from multiple applications of libations, while blolo bian statues will have a shiny patina from constant rubbing.
About the Baule People
The Baule are originally part of a breakaway group of the Akan people from Ghana. In the 17th century, Queen Abla Pokou led a group on an exodus away from the main Ashanti Confederacy after a war broke out due to disagreements among the factions. Pokou realized that she and her followers may be in harms way, so she took her people and headed westward. Legend says the group came upon the Comoé River, with its dangerous waters and needed a way to safely cross. With the enemy gaining on them, Queen Pokou asked a diviner for advice. The diviner, after much thought, told her the gods required a sacrifice. Everyone began throwing their most prized possessions into the river; gold, ivory, cattle, everything they owned, hoping to appease the gods. The diviner shook his head and said that our sons are our most prized possessions. Pokou, knowing that her duty as queen was more important than that of a mother, decided then to sacrifice her only son, throwing him into the water and calling out “Ba ouli”, translated to “the child is dead”, giving them the name Baule. After the sacrifice was made, hippopotamuses came up from the river and formed a bridge allowing the queen and her people to cross.
The Baule settled in what is now known as Côte d’Ivoire or Ivory Coast. They began defeating current inhabitants of the area and quickly became the middle man post for North and South trading routes. Towns and villages sprouted up with each being independent from one another, making their own decisions with the primacy of a council of elders. Smaller communities were usually governed by a village-chief whereas large villages were ruled by a king or queen. Considered an egalitarian society, everyone is equal and has a say in the overall agenda of the people, including slaves...
Read more about the Baule here.
About the Asie Usu
Asie Usu (genius of the bush or spirit of nature) figures often come in pairs of male and female, believed to have spirits inside them, also known as asie usu. These spirits would form a link between the physical and spiritual realm. Asie Usu figures would be stored in the home of a diviner on a shrine where sacrifices and offerings would be made to the spirits. Asie usu figures are sometimes mistaken as Blolo Bla or Blolo Bian figures, but can be identified by the sacrificial encrusted patina and residue on the outside. If a pair is found, it is most definitely Asie Usu since Blolo Bla are always single pieces.