|Lobi Bateba Ti Bala paternity figure (unusual or extraordinary Bateba)
|The Lobi people live in a vast geographical area that stretches from Burkina Fasso, to the Ivory Coast and into Ghana. Villages are spread out over
wide areas and are made up of several compounds.
The Lobi community is not organized on the basis of kinship or political ties and lacks any kind of centralized political authority in the form of a chief
king or council of village elders. Instead the members of the community are united by common adherence to the cult of a nature spirit called “thil” (pl
thila) and the rules that determine correct social behavior in the community are the rules that the spirit dictates through the diviner (thildar). The thila
are invisible spirits of nature with certain supernatural abilities and powers that they can use for malevolent or benevolent ends. Each village has a
particular spirit (dithil) that is responsible for the entire village.
Social behavior is regulated by these thila, whose will is passed to ordinary people by priests and diviners. Wooden or clay sculpture, called bateba, act
as an intermediary between a particular thil and the Lobi community.
Lobi bateba figures have a wide degree of style and are made for a wide range of purposes. In Lobi communities anyone can learn to carve, it is not
limited to people with specialized training. Lobi bateba figures are believed to be able to act in behalf of their owner, they are considered a living being
and have the ability to act out against forces that could harm it’s owner or bring good things to it’s owner depending on it’s intended purpose.
Very basic definitions
BATEBA - Generally in literature on the Lobi the term "bateba" translates to a "wooden carved figure"
BATEBA PHUWE - Normal or ordinary Bateba
These figures usually have no specific defining posture and are often figures with arms straight down and the figures are looking straight ahead and
often have a grim look on the face. These figures can have a variety of different functions.
BATEBA Tl BALA - Unusual or extraordinary Bateba (sub categories Thil Dokra <janus figure>, Betise <mating couple>, maternity figures)
Thil Dorka - Figures with two heads represent deities whose ability to see in several directions at once makes them exceptionally dangerous and
Betise - Figures depicting a man and a woman making love (the man always positioned behind the woman) are prescribed for single men so that they
find a wife or to women to avoid sterility or wished to have a child.
BATEBA YADAWORA - Sad Bateba
Some figures are carved with sad expressions or have a hand touching the face because their function is to mourn for their owners.
BATEBA Tl PUO - Dangerous Bateba
Often referred to as Bateba Duntundara as well, these figures are considered dangerous and block entrance to harmful forces such as disease or
witchcraft, and are depicted with one or both arms held up.
BATEBA BAMBAR - Paralysed Bateba
Figures depicting a seated man or woman with their legs stretched out in front of them are called bamgbar/bambar. According to certain soothsayers,
these protect children and the elderly from paralysis.
The Lobi often have conflicting interpretations of the meanings of the figures, and there are also varied meanings on similar figures because of
References: A History of Art in Africa, Lobi Art and Culture, The Lobi of Burkina Fasso, Lobi Skulpturen
If you are interested in learning more about the Lobi, CLICK HERE to go to some great online reference articles.
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|Other examples for reference purposes
|A Lobi paternal figure
Description: Carved wood standing male, arms held at sides, elongated
neck, simple stylized facial features and large phallus. He carries an
adolescent on his shoulders. Dark brown surface with old patina.
Losses to both feet, otherwise exc. cond. A very unusal example
depicting a male carrying a child. Custom metal base.
Provenance: Ex. Charles Jones col., Wilm., NC.
to see my Lobi maternity figures
|Rand African Art
Lobi maternity figures main page
LOBI bateba duntundara figures main page
African maternity figures main page