Lot: 119

Female ancestor figure thilkotina", 19th century

Burkina Faso, Lobi

Provenance Size Starting price / estimated price
Andreas & Kathrin Lindner, Munich, Germany
Sotheby's Paris, 8 June 2007, lot 45
Johann Levy, Paris, France
Serge Schoffel, Brussels, Belgium
H: 35.8 inch 55000 EUR / 120000 EUR

wood, fragmentary, on base The Lobi thought system gives great importance to the universe of the deceased, and the ideal achievement of man or woman in death is seen as his or her acceeding to the status of an "accomplished or completed" ancestor "kotin". The process is however long and difficult. It comprises various sets of funerary rites and first ends when the deceased's soul departs for the land of the ancestors. In the final phase of transformation into a "kotin", the ancestor will manifest himself to his descendants through a dream or an inexplicable illness, to show them that he wishes to be "brought into the world", "which means that his power will henceforth be represented by a statuette". An effigy of the ancestor will generally be accompanied by another figure of the opposite sex, because the power of the ancestors is ideally presentified by a male figure in the company of its female counterpart, which together form an indissoluble couple called "thilkotina". The figures were placed in the "thilduu" sanctuary. Only an artist that has attained the grade of "thiteldara kotin" in a defined hierarchy of sculptors can make them. These masters have the talent to reproduce a figure "in the same style" as those wooden ancestors already present in the sanctuary, and this resemblance incites the older ones to accept and adopt the newomer, to recognize him as "one of theirs", and to communicate with the living though the intermediary of this recently ancestralized forbear.


Schoffel, S., Baeke, V. et al., "Art en premier", Brussels 2017, p 46 & 49