This page is a record of an exhibit that took place
in 1994. The individual links below will take you to
the CURRENT VERSION of the pages
that formed part of that exhibit.
"Lobi Figures" is an exhibition of the enigmatic, brooding
figures that protect the Lobi people of Burkina Faso. Ranging in size from
7-47" 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. A few heads,
used similarly to the figures, and Lobi stools complete this powerful, spiritual
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. The collection we have on exhibit is large and varied.