Alusi is the Igbo word for god. This figure stands in a stance typical of Igbo Alusi shrine figures, with stiff, slightly separated legs and upturned palms which signify a willingness to receive offerings. The surface of this Igbo Alusi figure exhibits an old, crackled patina.
The body of the figure has been decorated with red and white pigments, and finely carved markings adorn the figure’s stomach and chest. Pronounced facial scarification marks on the brow and forehead extend down on each side. These ‘scars’, known as ichi, are signifiers of wealth and prestige within the Igbo community.
Alusi figures were the relatives of gods and traditionally kept together in a shrine close to the centre of the community. The accumulation of Alusi within a shrine increased their power and dynamism, and by extension, the well-being of the community. At times, the carved figures would be dispersed and housed in elders’ meeting houses within a family compound. During festivals, freshly painted Alusi would be paraded throughout the village, emphasising the stability and togetherness of the community.
Ex Private Collection, Italy
Estimated Period: First Half of 20th Century
Bowers Museum, ‘Igbo Deity Figure (Alusi)’ (2014) https://www.bowers.org/index.php/collection/collection-blog/igbo-deity-figure-alusi
H.M. Cole &C.C. Aniakor, ‘Igbo Arts: Community and Cosmos’, Museum of Cultural History, University of California, (1984), pp.91-92
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