The art of the Lobi, an ethnic group of southwest Burkina Faso, has given rise to a world of unusual objects that can be divided into two broad functional groups, one characterised by ancestral cult objects, the other, by figures used in strictly private and propitiatory practices. This society, among the most complex in the Voltaic area, has developed an art form in which the sculptures serve as an everyday reminder of the group's ancestors. The eternal presence of the ancestors' spirits, whether they are recognised as official ancestors or simply as incomplete ancestors, determines the production of objects, which are used in the management of social and religious affairs. This volume examines the role sculpture plays - making tangible that which is no longer corporeal - in the Lobi culture. An analysis of the works reveals functional affinities between the objects and brings to light many influences which, over the years, have blended into the formal designs of the most renowned sculptors. The
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Daniela Bognolo is an ethnologist and assistant researcher at the CNRS/EPHE in Paris. She has been leading fieldwork, especially among traditional Lobi groups and the Gan in Burkina Faso since 1980.
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