Bateba Statues of the Lobi People

The Lobi are an ethnic group that originated in what is today Ghana. The name Lobi originates from two Lobiri words; lou (meaning forest) and bi (meaning children), literally ‘Children of the forest’.

The Lobi do not use masks. Instead, they create male and female spirit figures called bateba with heads sculpted on top of a post planted in the ground. The bateba statues are carefully polished and their patina is shiny and lustrous. Bateba is considered as a living being and may see, communicate, and intervene on behalf of its thil spirit. Every house has a small shrine room set apart for the worship of ancestral spirits.

The Lobi people hand-craft wooden bateba figures in a wide degree of styles made for a wide range of purposes. Anyone can learn to carve in the Lobi community. It is believed that these figures act on behalf of their owner, and are considered to be a living being, having the ability to repel harmful forces or manifest good things to it’s owner.
Lobi bateba statuesImages source: www.schuetz-linse.de
Photos: Petra Schütz