Buti Male Figure
Late 19th-early 20th c.
Wood, iron, pigments, composite material
37.6 x 10 x 10.5 cm
Purchase, the Museum Campaign 1988-1993 Fund, inv. 2007.115
Archeology and World Cultures
The faces of buti figures bear scarifications related to the ethnic identity of the individual depicted. Cavities in their abdomens were used to hold materials having an active effect, such as hairs from the beard of a deceased individual mingled with earth from his place of burial. The mixture was then wrapped up in fabric coated with resin. The statue was regularly nourished with sacrificial blood and a reddish vegetable powder, allusions to the life force. When the buti had done its work, it could be given to a new owner seeking the intervention of ancestors. If the owner decided to keep it, a diviner-healer would have to remove the magical substances for replacement with a more suitable mixture.