Lobi Bateba Bétise figure
The Lobi people live in a vast geographical area that stretches from Burkina Fasso, to the Ivory Coast and into Ghana. Villages are spread out over wide
areas and are made up of several compounds.

The Lobi community is not organized on the basis of kinship or political ties and lacks any kind of centralized political authority in the form of a chief king or
council of village elders. Instead the members of the community are united by common adherence to the cult of a nature spirit called “thil” (pl thila) and the
rules that determine correct social behavior in the community are the rules that the spirit dictates through the diviner (thildar). The thila are invisible spirits of
nature with certain supernatural abilities and powers that they can use for malevolent or benevolent ends. Each village has a particular spirit (dithil) that is
responsible for the entire village.

Social behavior is regulated by these thila, whose will is passed to ordinary people by priests and diviners. Wooden or clay sculpture, called bateba, act as
an intermediary between a particular thil and the Lobi community.

Lobi bateba figures have a wide degree of style and are made for a wide range of purposes. In Lobi communities anyone can learn to carve, it is not limited
to people with specialized training. Lobi bateba figures are believed to be able to act in behalf of their owner, they are considered a living being and have
the ability to act out against forces that could harm it’s owner or bring good things to it’s owner depending on it’s intended purpose.

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
These figures usually have no specific defining posture and are often figures with arms straight down and the figures are looking straight ahead and often
have a grim look on the face. These figures can have a variety of different functions.

BATEBA Tl  BALA - Unusual or extraordinary Bateba (sub categories Thil Dokra <janus figure>, Betise <mating couple>, maternity figures)
Thil Dorka - Figures with two heads represent deities whose ability to see in several directions at once makes them exceptionally dangerous and powerful
Betise - Figures depicting a man and a woman making love (the man always positioned behind the woman) are prescribed for single men so that they find a
wife or to women to avoid sterility or wished to have a child.

Some figures are carved with sad expressions or have a hand touching the face because their function is to mourn for their owners.

BATEBA Tl PUO  - Dangerous Bateba
Often referred to as Bateba Duntundara as well, these figures are considered dangerous and block entrance to harmful forces such as disease or
witchcraft, and are depicted with one or both arms held up.
BATEBA  BAMBAR - Paralysed Bateba
Figures depicting a seated man or woman with their legs stretched out in front of them are called bamgbar/bambar. According to certain soothsayers, these
protect children and the elderly from paralysis.

The Lobi often have conflicting interpretations of the meanings of the figures, and there are also varied meanings on similar figures because of regional

References: A History of Art in Africa, Lobi Art and Culture, The Lobi of Burkina Fasso, Lobi Skulpturen

If you are interested in learning more about the Lobi,
CLICK HERE to go to some great online reference articles.
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Lobi Bateba Betise
Acquired from Tim and Bobbi Hamill, Hamill Gallery of African Art, Boston
24 inches tall - a really fantastic example in my opinion

"Statuettes depicting a man and a woman making love (the man always positioned behind the woman), the thilbou khe
mounkha, which are prescribed for single men so that they find a wife or to women to avoid sterility or wished to have a child."
from Julien Bosc - Lobi Art and Culture

"Copulating couples or maternity figures are believed to enhance the fertility of women living in the household"
from Tribal Arts of Africa
These objects below are not in my collection - they are presented for reference purposes only
From "The Tribal Arts of Africa"
Lobi bateba figure - 7"
A figure at auction in France
From the catalog- "Lobi Skulpturen"
From the catalog- "Lobi Skulpturen"
bateba Figure
Maurer Collection
Lobi People
Burkina Faso, Western Africa
Late 19th - Early 20th Century
47” h, 20” w
William Siegal Gallery
A very beautiful piece and unusual with the outstretched arm as seen in the Duntundara figures.
Asking price at the gallery for this figure is $120,000
A Lobi maternity figure
From the catalog- "Lobi Skulpturen - The Floros and Sigrid Katsouros Collection"
Attributed to the Hélène and Philippe Leloup Gallery in Paris