Wood, vegetable fibres, pigments
The beliefs and religious practices of the Igbo-speaking peoples identify a constellation of tutelary deities known as alusi or agbara - messengers of the supreme deity Chukwu - sensitive to the desires, sacrifices and offerings of men. These invisible entities include places, principles and peoples: earth, rivers, prominent landscapes features, markets (and the days in which they take place), war, ancestors - founders and legendary heroes. In general terms, the cults of tutelary deities propitiate a series of practices which contribute towards good health, prosperity, agricultural production, the maintenance of high morale and social and ecological order. each of the main cults involves an officiant and his aides who perform weekly rituals which regularly include the offering of blood sacrifices, and who also supervise the annual festivals held in honour of the gods. The figures in solid wood that represent these deities vary between 45cm and 180cm in height and are sculpted in a conventional, static and symmetrical form. There are regional variations, and in certain areas they are kept in groups in relatively elaborate temples located in the centre of the villages, next to markets and the place where the ceremonial dances are performed. These temples can be large and lavishly decorated. Minor deities also appear grouped into domestic clusters. Due to the lack of precise information, it is not possible to determine the entities represented in each figure, since the hundreds of known figures report to generic types and have no specific attributes. They are invariably sculpted by men and then painted by woman with red, orange and white pigments, with patterns similar to those of the people, asserting personal beauty and full social status. The height of the statues in the collection - between 1m and 1.80m - refers to the main entities.