|Information below is from a catalog I purchased called “Lobi Skulpturen - The Floros and Sigrid Katsouros Collection"|
It's a nice publication and I do highly recommend it.
Very basic definitions
BATEBA - Generally in literature on the Lobi the term "bateba" translates to a "wooden carved figure"
BATEBA PHUWE - Normal or ordinary Bateba
BATEBA Tl BALA - Unusual Bateba (sub categories Thil Dokra <janus figure>, Betise <mating couple>, maternity figures)
BATEBA YADAWORA - Sad Bateba
BATEBA Tl PUO - Dangerous Bateba
BATEBA BAMBAR - Paralysed Bateba
"These are words from the Lobi language that help to explain the ritual use and significance of the figures. But this glossary hardly does justice to
the aesthetic and stylistic principles on which the Lobi carvings are based. The Lobi carvers employed every imaginable form of variation,
abstraction and reduction, indulging in the fantastic to such an extent that they are sometimes referred to as the 'wild' or 'crazy' Lobi.
The first impression of the Lobi figures is one of non-uniformity both in form and style. But this perception of a lack of style or tradition is thoroughly
misleading. On closer inspection, most of the statues in the BATEBA PHUWE group (the 'normal figures') are homogeneous and easily
recognisable. Categorising the other groups is harder, but with patience and a little practice even the weirdest of the Lobi statues can be identified.
The Lobi have very distinct ideas about the appearance of the human body, e.g. head, hairstyle, chest, eyes, shoulders, buttocks and legs, and
these are adhered to by the Lobi carvers, consciously or subconsciously, even when they are producing the 'craziest' of representations.
It is therefore perfectly acceptable to speak of a typical Lobi figurative style, albeit that it may not have reached the same level of maturity as the
ethnic art of the Yoruba or Baule. Living conditions among the Lobi, a proud, warlike people who were never enslaved, who were scattered by
migration across three different countries, who have tended to live in small, isolated communities, and who are reckoned to be shy, have
discouraged them from developing the perfected artistic style of an 'advanced culture' - and thank goodness for that!
Clearly, most of the Lobi carvers were able to work unrestrained by the dictates of a common style, without any obligation to produce something
that satisfied the general aesthetic norm. They could realise their own individual style. Most of them remain nameless.
To the best of our knowledge they were self-taught.
Piet Meyer has written: 'The Lobi say, anyone can carve Bateba'.
The Lobi carvers produced their remarkable figures with crude implements, and sitting under a tree rather than in a studio, yet they made them with
great skill and precision and gave their work a clear personal touch. Indeed, we can identify some of these master carvers with a considerable
degree of certainty on the basis of individual characteristics. It is the aim of this present publication to suggest a provisional identification and to
name a number of hitherto anonymous Lobi carvers; also, to present a selection of particularly interesting individual works.
The Lobi originally came from Ghana. Around 1770 there was some resettlement in Burkina Faso and about 100 years later on the Ivory Coast too.
Today, roughly 180,000 Lobi live in these three countries."