African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Lobi Bateba Statues
Lobi Bateba Statues (N° 10654)
Knee, hands arranged on either side of his prominent abdomen, this Lobi statue has a face with a meditative and serene face. Eyelids closed in a head with naturalistic features. This ancient wooden effigy, the Bateba, was placed on the altar after a ritual to become the receptacle of a bush spirit, the Thil, and thus become an active, intermediate being that fights against sorcerers and other evil forces. When they are honoured, these spirits show their benevolence in the form of heavy rains, good health, numerous 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, with many other sculptures embodying other spirits as it takes many to face the many threats of the rural world of West Africa.
Source: "Sculptures of the Three Volta" Massa and Lauret .