Protective figure "bateba phuwe" Lobi, Burkina Faso.

Lobi Figures are the enigmatic, brooding sculpture that protect the Lobi people of Burkina Faso. Most are frontal, symmetrical and timeless sentinels expressing the traditional beliefs of the Lobi.

The figures were placed on family altars in the thilda, a small sacristy or room in each dwelling. Each figure was not a representation but an actual spirit, or tibil thil. It protected the family and home from illness and other misfortunes. The spirit could also be used for divination; it could demand offerings and additions of other figures. The accumulation of statues on a family altar gave social status and were passed on from father to son. Most were frontal and symmetrical, but some depart from the norm with unusually animated gestures, asymmetry or a great degree of symbolic abstraction.

This fine Lobi Protective Altar figure has a head with pointed chin and elaborate coiffure and is standing with raised arms; showing a defensive pose in order to ward off invisible enemies.

Wood, dull, partly shiny, middle brown patina, min. dam., cracks, traces of wear and use, on MDF base.

H: 24,5 cm - 9.6 inch.