Bush Spirit Bronzes

   Bronze depiction of a rhinocerous
  Bush Spirit Bronze

The Bobo people live in Burkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa about the same size as Colorado. They live near dense jungle, in a world filled with tall trees, animals and plants of every size and description, and plenty of spirits, bush spirits to be exact. We live in a jungle of sorts too, an urban jungle, a place where trees have been replaced by buildings, plants are cultivated in containers, and animals are bred to occupy our households and be companions rather than be avoided or hunted for food. Bush spirits may have occupied the urban jungle before there ever was a political, industrial, or chemical revolution; and they may still be here, camouflaged by the buzz of daily life, a faint echo in our collective memory.

Bronze depiction of a boar   

Even today, the Bobo people call upon bush spirits to chase evil from their communities and purify the land to insure a successful harvest. This is typically done through elaborate dances, which may last for three days. Featured is a by-product of these ceremonies, three bronze representations of bush spirits – a boar, a rhino, and a fish. Fashioned by Bobo blacksmiths, formidable individuals respected for their knowledge, these pieces might do for us what they did for the Bobo – keep us protected while reminding us that even flowers can grow in the most unlikely places.

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Bush Spirit depictions of a fish, boar, and rhino; from the Bobo people of Burkina Faso