Brutus and Bosou

Sculptor Luckner Brutus stylized bulls

“In my village, everyone seemed to have a trade. I decided I needed to find one for myself,” says sculptor Luckner Brutus. He gathered soft rocks from the riverbed in nearby Gressier and carved a fish with nothing more than a nail and a table knife. And then he made a stone picture frame covered in etched flowers.

But none of his work sold until he heard a voice that said to do something mystical with his river rocks. How did he choose a mystical subject in mystical Haiti? Easily.

His mother, her parents, and her two siblings, were all visited by Bosou, the powerful bull-shaped vodou lwa. By virtue of his family’s long relationship with the lwa, Brutus also feels Bosou’s vivid presence when attending ceremonies dedicated to him. But while Brutus has been possessed (or “ridden,” as Haitians say) by Gran Bwa, Ogou and Zaca – other powerful lwas – he has never been taken by Bosou. “God is ready for me, but I am not ready for him,” he says. In order to keep himself from being ridden by Bosou, he binds one wrist and one bicep tightly at certain ceremonies; the ligatures are a reminder for Brutus to stay in his body – not to let go.

His reason for holding back is economic. His mother continues to represent their family as a celebrant of Bosou, and bears the responsibility of organizing and paying for ceremonies devoted to him. Once Brutus steps up to assume this leadership role for his family, the economic burden will fall to him. With three young children of his own, he cannot afford that right now.

Sculpting Bosou as an act of dedication has both spiritual and financial rewards. Brutus acknowledges his lwa. And all of his Bosou figures sell readily to galleries and collectors. Brutus’ depictions of the lwa’s personality and physical form appeal to many. The horned visage, he assures us, has nothing to do with the devil. The horns are there only because Bosou is a bull. And because Brutus faithfully honors both his new trade and his deep spiritual heritage.

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