Additional Information: A Lobi shrine figure.
The Lobi people, who live in Burkina Faso and Ghana, revere spirits known as Thil, and build shrines to them, which are filled with figures like this one. These figures, known as Bateba, are believed to embody the Thil spirits. The Bateba are looked upon as living beings charged with special powers who move, fight against witches, and have intercourse with each other. The Lobi believe that the Bateba are superior to humans, but inferior to the Thil spirits, so the Bateba is first activated by putting it in a Thil shrine. The Bateba keep sorcerers away, and help the Thil ward off misfortune. They also play a role in the divination system. (See AFRICAN MASTERPIECES FROM MUNICH-The Stratlisches Museum fur Volkerkunde.) For a superb collection of Lobi figures, see LOBI SKULPTUREN AUS DER KOLLECTION KATSOUROS.
I have examined this piece and agree with the description.
Niangi Batulukisi, PhD.