Lobi Bateba Ti Bala maternity figure (unusual or extraordinary Bateba)
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
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 variances.

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 maternity figure
A figure with a lot of great character in my opinion. I love the representation and the detail of the baby, and I love how the mother's head is
slightly tilted to one side. It's a small and simple but visually powerfully little figure.

Unusual or extraordinary Bateba figures are often referred to as Bateba "Ti Bala", and then there are sub categories of Ti Bala figures.
Maternity and Betise figures fall under the Ti Bala category of Lobi figures.

5 1/2" tall
Provenance: Tabwa Gallery, NY, NY
Other examples for reference purposes
A Lobi maternity figure being offered at the Serge Reynes November 2005 auction, Lot 125
PDF catalog

A photo of this figure is below, click on image to see full size version.
Lot 125
37cm (14.4 inches)
Estimate 5000/8000€
Christie's - Paris
Art Africain et Océanien
Auction Date : Dec 6, 2005

Représentant une femme debout tenant son enfant dans ses bras et reposant sur sa hanche, les visages aux lèvres proéminentes et aux
yeux semi-circulaires, les coiffes lisses et bombées. Patine sombre et croûteuse. Probablement par Lunkena Pale de Gaoua.
Hauteur: 29 cm.

€ 1,000 - € 1,500       

Voir Meyer, P., Kunst und Religion der Lobi, Zurich, 1981, p.150, fig.119 pour une sculpture du même artiste.
The examples below are from the collection of Floros and Sigrid Katsouros and are from the catalog
"Lobi Skulpturen - from the collection of Floros and Sigrid Katsouros"
Lobi maternity - 31 cm
Published Piet Meyer, 194,199,208
Provenance - Galerie Garcia, Paris
Collection of Floros and Sigrid Katsouros
Lobi maternity - 27.5 cm
Provenance - Helene and Philippe Leloup, Paris
Collection of Floros and Sigrid Katsouros
14A - Lobi maternity figure - 20 cm - Provenance Maine Durie, Paris

15 - Lobi maternity figure - 34 cm - Provenance Galerie Garcia, Paris

16 - Lobi maternity figure - 18.7cm - Provenance Hans Bittlingmaier - Published "Bie den Wahrsagern im Land der Lobi", # 12

Collection of Floros and Sigrid Katsouros
Lobi maternity figure - 30 cm
Provenance Hans Bittlingmaier
previously Maine Durie, Paris

Collection of Floros and Sigrid Katsouros
A Lobi paternal figure

Size: 13-1/2"H.  

Description: Carved wood standing male, arms held at sides, elongated
neck, simple stylized facial features and large phallus. He carries an
adolescent on his shoulders. Dark brown surface with old patina.
Losses to both feet, otherwise exc. cond. A very unusal example
depicting a male carrying a child. Custom metal base.
Provenance: Ex. Charles Jones col., Wilm., NC.