Old Powerful Lobi Figure – Bateba TI POU / DUNTUNDARA – Burkina Faso
Mid 20th century or earlier. Wood, cm. 32,5 high (cm 36,5 on the custom stand). Beautiful patina.
The Bateba are sculptural representations of the Lobi and embody the presence of real living beings. They act as intermediaries between the Thila, that is, the invisible spirits of the Lobi, and the community, protecting their owners. These Bateba TI PUO figures (often referred to as Bateba Duntundara as well) are considered protection bateba and placed in the sacred chamber of the family altar to implore the Thila and block entrance to harmful forces such as disease or witchcraft. They are therefore represented with one or two arms raised to stop any intrusion.
The Lobi are an ethnic group that originated in what is today Ghana. Starting around 1770 many of the Lobi migrated into southern Burkina Faso and later into Côte d’Ivoire.
The name Lobi originates from two Lobiri words lou (meaning forest) and bi (meaning children), literally “Children of the forest” who settled initially on the left bank of the Mouhoun River or the Black Volta dividing Burkina and Ghana who ventured into Burkina Faso.
The Mouhoun is important in Lobi myth and symbolizes a dividing line between this world and the next, similar to the River Styx of Roman mythology. The Lobi crossed the Mounhoun centuries ago from east to west and settled in the lands and brought with them deep animist beliefs and superstition. According to Lobi legend, the spirits of the deceased must return across the river to rejoin their honorable ancestors in the ancient world. The banks of the Mounhoun are used in initiation rites and fish and animals in the river are considered sacred.
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