Origin: Burkina Faso
Approx Age: Early 20th Century
Dimensions cm: 8 (inner diameter)
Ref. Number: 1305
Lovely and very old iron bangle/bracelet from the Lobi tribe Burkina Faso. The designed piece has a broad section that tapers away to a thinner strap that has had a knot incorporated. The iron bracelets made by the Lobi (in Burkina Faso) have knots in them. The more knots, the more powerful the adornment was and the better the chance of protection. General signs of metal erosion.
Provenance: Ex Lampevelden Collection Netherlands.
The Lobi people live in the western region of Burkina Faso, formerly Upper Volta and in the Ivory Coast. Speaking a Gur language of the Niger-Congo family. They are farmers and hunters, growing millet and sorghum as staples. Traditionally, the Lobi governed themselves through the clan system, with no formal political organization. Religious beliefs were purely animistic until Islamic influence entered the area around the 14th century. It is believed by the Lobi that at one time they lived in a metaphorical Garden of Eden at one with the god and wanting for nothing. However, as their numbers began to increase men began to fight one another over women, and as a result the god turned his back on them. Not wanting them to be completely lost, the god sent forth thila to take care of the people. The thila are contacted through a diviner who delivers their messages, demands, and prohibitions to the people. The village thil is embodied in a village shrine but, since thila may leave the shrines, they are often uninhabited. Below the thila cosmologically, yet above men, are numerous nature spirits. The Lobi are able freely to distinguish between the nature spirits and the thila based on a series of factors, which at first seem quite confusing to the outsider. Lobi men devote some of their time to the forging of iron and the casting of brass. They make delightful amulets in both animal and human form, with the strange iron snakes perhaps the best-known. There are many interesting utilitarian objects, like charming figural slingshots, and small phallic-form flutes and staffs. The art of the Lobi continues to grow in popularity due to its naive beauty and relative abundance. The iron bracelets made by the Lobi (in Burkina Faso) have knots in them. The more knots, the more powerful the adornment was and the better the chance of protection. Some of the adornments are shaped like a snake.
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