Primitive Announces Online Art Exhibition: SPIRIT SPOUSES - Statues of Other World Mates from the Baule People in West Africa
Do you believe there is an alternate world running parallel to the world of the living? If you do, then you have something in common with the Baule (pronounced bow-lay) people in the Ivory Coast, West Africa. The Baule call this world the blolo, or otherworld. It is the spirit world, the place where the deceased reside and the point of origin for newborns. The Baule also believe each of us has a mate in the blolo, and this mate can be enlisted to help us solve problems in our world, the world of the living. "Spirit Spouses - Statues of Other World Mates from the Baule People" is an online art exhibition featuring authentic African art - effigies of Baule spirit mates. The exhibition is sponsored by Primitive, a well known Chicago gallery with twenty three years of experience in dealing with many types of authentic, collectible ethnographic (ethnic) art and furnishings. Although the statues may be seen in-person at Primitive's flagship store, located at 130 N. Jefferson in downtown Chicago, the online art exhibition represents a way for the company to bring this important collection directly to guests and clients who are located all over the world and cannot visit in-person in a timely manner.
Baule men and women typically learn about the existence of their Spirit Spouse when they encounter a real life problem such as infertility, illness, incompatibility in a real life relationship, or even difficulty in finding a real life mate. When this occurs, a diviner may determine the problem can be "cured" by marriage to a Spirit Spouse, in which case a representation of the spouse is carved. Each sculpted Spirit Spouse has a distinctive personality known to its physical mate. Once the marriage between the physical mate and the Spirit Spouse takes place it becomes the physical mate's obligation to give offerings to the Spirit Spouse on a regular basis. In turn, it becomes the obligation of the Spirit Spouse to cure whatever problem caused the creation of the marriage in the first place.
When collected and displayed by Westerners, especially collectors of African art, Spirit Spouses are proudly displayed. When in use by the Baule, Spirit Spouses are rarely shown to anyone. They are normally kept in a private room, usually the corner of a bedroom. Sometimes a full shrine is built, and at other times a simple white cloth is draped over the statue. It's important to note a Spirit Spouse is not meant to be kept by the physical mate or become an heirloom; and once the problem which caused the marriage is resolved the sculpture itself may find its way into the marketplace. Each of the statues in the exhibition is authentic and was used by the Baule people and collected in the Ivory Coast. Glen Joffe, owner of Primitive, said in regard to the statues, "I like to think of these pieces as being happily retired. After all, they wouldn't be here unless they had done their job successfully."
In most cases a Spirit Spouse will fulfill its purpose within the physical mate's lifetime, sometimes quickly; for example, in a matter of months, and at other times over the course of many years. When in use, these statues exert a powerful influence on the daily life of their physical mates. Joffe also said, "Authentic Spirit Spouses serve as potent reminders that forces in the unseen world can cure problems in the physical world. They remind us all cultures are the same, we just express ourselves differently. In this way, they are relevant to our lives today."
About Primitive: Primitive is an establishEd Gallery located in downtown Chicago presenting exclusive as well as one-of-a-kind collections of furniture, artifacts, textiles, jewelry, fashion and artwork from all over the world. Whether you visit in-person or on the web, you will find a colorful mosaic of authentic collections brought from some of the world's hardest to reach places. Everything offered at Primitive has a story, history, purpose and design heritage, and comes from the hand and heart.