African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Bateba Lobi
Bateba Lobi (N° 11138)
Lobi sculptures and African art.
Hardwood, split, brown patina and matte with many traces of aging. An impression of serene interiority emerges from this standing figure. Its sober nudity is decorated in the middle of the back with only one rectangular scarification. The shoulders have a slight asymmetry on a narrow sharp bust with the solidity of the massive legs which also give it an idea of power. From closed eyelids in an oval face to naturalistic features. This ancient wooden effigy, the Bateba, was placed on the altar after a ritual to become the receptacle of a spirit of the bush, the Thil, and thus become an active, intermediate being who fights against sorcerers and all other harmful forces.
When they are honored, these spirits show their benevolence in the form of abundant rains, good health, many births; Ignored, they remove it and lead to devastating epidemics, drought and suffering.
These spirits pass on to the soothsayers the laws that followers must follow in order to receive their protection.
They are represented by wooden or copper sculptures called Bateba (large or small, figurative or abstract, they adopt different attitudes that symbolize the particular power or talent that the mind uses to protect its owners). These figurines are placed on the tombs, in a dark corner of the owners' house, along with many other sculptures embodying other spirits because it takes a large number to face the many threats of the rural world of West Africa.
Source: Sculptures of the Three Volta Massa and Lauret .