Dagari, Male Figure “bangala”, Lobi, Burkina Faso
Wood, encrusted greyish brown patina
H: 50 cm (19,7″), W:10 cm (3,9″)
Age: Est. 60 – 70 years old.
Provenance: From a private Dutch collection through a Brussel Art Dealer.
Dagari figures like this one are among the most abstract and symbolic of Lobi Figures. Not until the nineties of the last century the Dagaris phallic conceived abstract ancestor figures came to be known overseas. Each of these figures represents a deceased family member and were used in the ancestral cult.
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.
Ranging in size from 22-36″ high, most are frontal, symmetrical and timeless sentinels expressing the traditional beliefs of the Lobi. Several depart from the norm with animated gestures, asymmetry or a great degree of symbolic abstraction.
The Lobi carve numerous types of objects, ranging from those used every day to figures that embody religious ideals. Bateba (figures) are recognized as living beings, which are placed on the shrines of thila (supernatural spirits) and are able to communicate with one another and to fight off witches.
The Lobi migrated into Burkina Faso from present day Ghana around 1770, and many of them crossed the border into contemporary Côte d’Ivoire over the next hundred years or so in search of uncultivated lands. Although Lobi villages are often very independent and so politically disorganized, they managed to put up a strong resistance to French colonialization.(Quotation from Prof. Christopher D. Roy, Elizabeth M. Stanley Faculty Fellow of African Art History at the University of Iowa (UI).
Literature: Quotation from Prof. Christopher D. Roy, Elizabeth M. Stanley Faculty Fellow of African Art History at the University of Iowa (UI).
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