Alusi (Arusi or Arushi) are Igbo sacred deities that function as guardians, patrons, or protectors of a certain person, place, lineage, or vocation. These minor deities are frequently connected with natural elements like as soil, rivers, and woods, as well as days of the week when markets are conducted. The Igbo believe Alusi to be the children or delegates of the supreme deity Chukwu. They are occasionally realized as full-size wooden figurines that operate as agents of blessing or destruction depending on the situation.
An Alusi could be man made, and considered as messenger for an individual or a community. An Alusi can serve to maintain law and order in a community acting as police. It can serve as an army in defense of its people. Bear in mind that an Alusi doesn’t do anything except you summon it.
Altars and Placements of Alusi
Deities wants people to recognize, appreciate, and honor them. As a result, an Alusi is housed in shrines or extensive enclosures and are the subject of weekly and annual ceremonies/rituals.
The shrine’s primary statues are hierarchically ranked male and female deities, who are regarded a married pair, with smaller, lesser pictures symbolizing their children. Most shrines follow a family paradigm, although others incorporate slaves, Ikenga, and animals as part of a deity’s retinue.
Alusi’s placement at these sacred areas attests to the attention paid to them. Arusi offers peace, wealth, health, bountiful harvests, and other blessings if the people treat them kindly. However, when insulted, Alusi brings sickness and misery. Diviners and priests interpret the Arusi’s intentions and execute ceremonial sacrifices on their behalf.
The Worship of Alusi
These deities were once worshiped every four days in the past following the Igbo calendar. In a ritual attended by village elders and leaders, the priest would present sacrificial gifts of food and wine. Chalk and kola nuts were among the offerings.
Occasionally, poultry, goats, or lambs are the sacrifice. The ‘chaff,’ or the corpses of sacrificial animals, serves as the feast for these deities since blood is the sacrifice preference by the deities themselves. Women repaint and redress the figurines during the yearly ‘festival of images.’
Features of Alusi Gods
- Made of iroko wood
- Carved standing in frontal position
- Natural human head proportion or slightly larger
- Ichi scarification marks incised deeply at temples and forehead
- Elongated neck
- Arms disposed symmetrically to sides
- Arms usually cut free of the torso
- Forearms thrust forward
- Hands open with palms facing the sky
- Hands generalised and without detail
- Mbithu scarification marks run down chest and stomach
- Legs slightly apart
- Feet generalised and without detail
- Feet carved as heavy, non-naturalistic shapes
- Carved spirals (bracelets and anklets) around legs and wrists
- Accurate articulation of joints
- Smoothly rounded surfaces
- Many figures rubbed with yellow or red pigment (result of camwood rubbing)
- White chalk rubbed on face
- Reapplication of chalk and/or camwood sometimes build up over time, forming deep encrustation
The word ‘Alusi’ in other Religions
The term ‘Alusi’ has its Islamic connotation, it means marriage or bride. It’s in Arabic language and is a common name for a girl. Some people believe to have their lucky days according to their names, the lucky days are Wednesdays and Fridays. And colours peculiar to this belief or superstition are green and yellow. There are even lucky metals to this note, they are copper and bronze.