Figure, Bateba



Figure, Bateba


Effigy, sculpture


20th Century


West Africa, Burkina Faso/Cote D'Ivoire


Wood, organic material
30 1/2 in. (77.5 cm)

Object Number



Lobi individuals consult diviners, called bour, concerning social or physical problems at hand. Bour in turn consult thila, invisible beings that the Lobi creator, Thangba Yu (meaning, "sky above"), assigned to protect humans from hunger, sickness, and death caused by their own transgressions of the behavioral laws set out by Thangba Yu at the beginning of time.

Once a diagnosis has been made, the client must follow prohibitions, perform sacrifices, and possibly erect a shrine to house figurative sculptures (bateba) like this one. The sculptor carves the figures according to instructions provided by thila through the diviner. This figures' frontal pose, concentrated gaze, and erect stature embody an attitude of vigilance and awareness appropriate for its protective role.

Credit Line

Ex coll. William S. Arnett


Divine Intervention: African Art and Religion, Michael C. Carlos Museum, February 5 - December 4, 2011


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White 2010.
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On View



“Figure, Bateba,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed January 16, 2019,

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