Chico Tabibuia (1936 - 2007)


height: 100cm
width: 32cm

Donated by Paulo Pardal 2004


This is one of a large number of carvings by Chico Tabibuia representing the Orixa Exu, mediator between humans and the gods. Over the years, Tabibuia has produced hundreds of Exu figures in different configurations, each possessing specific attributes: male or female Exus, hermaphrodite Exus, self-copulating Exus, totem-like Exus, and even clock-Exus. The pointed head of this one-metre tall Exu is placed over two slightly flexed legs, leaving the sculpture without a torso. An oversized penis points down to the ground between the legs. By working on figures dictated by dreams, Tabibuia employs ritual methods to produce these archetypical figures. He sees his role as imprisoning the spirit of the forest by diverting the orixas into the tree trunks he employs for his sculptures, in order to help humans. This approach to object making draws from ancient African, indigenous American and popular traditions, in which ex-votos would encapsulate the 'spirit' of an illness and thus liberate the person from suffering. In the Umbanda pantheon, Exu is the guardian of the roads and doors in this world, standing at the crossroads of the human and the divine. Nothing can be done in either world without his permission. Exu is always called first, before any other orixa because he opens the door between worlds and our roads in life, fulfilling the role of the divine messenger.

Gabriela Salgado, 2005

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