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Re: [African_Arts] 'Lobi'

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  • paolo paretti
    Hello Cory, recently I asked Binathé Kambou - the guide of many ethnologistis, (Piet Meyer, Gottschalk, Bosc, Bognolo etc.)  photo: tribalartforum.com
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 18, 2008
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      Hello Cory,

      recently I asked Binathé Kambou - the guide of many ethnologistis, 
      (Piet Meyer, Gottschalk, Bosc, Bognolo etc.)

    • Cory Gundlach
      Dear Paolo, Your information is invaluable to me, thank you so much! I just have a few more questions for you-- When Binathé Kambou refers to the Lobi, is
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 18, 2008
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        Dear Paolo,

        Your information is invaluable to me, thank you so much!  I just have a few more questions for you--

        When Binathé Kambou refers to the Lobi, is his understanding at all similar to Bognolo's?  In other words, does it include the Teésè, Birifor, and Dagara?

        What area is Binathé Kambou from?

        Bognolo is identified as an ethnologist in her book, working as a research associate in Paris.  Is there a reason to think this is incorrect?  She does cite local informants here and there, but I agree with you, she should be more consistent about providing the source of her information.

        Thanks again,

        ----- Original Message ----
        From: paolo paretti <paolo@...>
        To: African_Arts@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Monday, February 18, 2008 3:49:31 PM
        Subject: Re: [African_Arts] 'Lobi'

        Hello Cory,

        recently I asked Binathé Kambou - the guide of many ethnologistis, 
        (Piet Meyer, Gottschalk, Bosc, Bognolo etc.)

        photo: tribalartforum.com
        Binathé Kambou with Piet Meyer at the beginning of the 1980th

        what he is thinkig about "the ancestor theory" of Daniele Bognolo. 
        He said that Daniela asked him many "bizzare questions", but for sure 
        "the wooden sculptures of the Lobi aren´t  ancestor sculptures". "Only 
        the terracotta figures have a relation to the Lobi ancestors". I don´t know 
        if he is right, but Daniela should quote such an important 
        informant like Binaté and his opinion.

        Her book is full of references, which are related to important Lobi carvers of 
        the 19th century. But she never gives any informations, where she got these sources.
        Daniela Bognolo isn´t an ethnologist, but if she makes statements of such importance,
        like her "ancestor-theory" -  she should give us an exact manifestation of her sources.
        Otherwise you can believe it or not.

        In my experiences it is extremly difficult, to get biographic facts, which are only twenty 
        or fourty years ago. The Lobi people  don´t have a relation to "time" like we have.
        For me the biographic informations about the Lobi from 19th century, which Bognolo
        is asserting, aren´t very believable.

        Daniela Bognolo affirms a lot, but authenticates nearly nothing.
        A nice book, with nice photos, but the content isn´t satisfying for me.

        Binaté Kambou 2007, identifying a Lobi sculpture

        Paolo Paretti

        Am 16.02.2008 um 21:28 schrieb Cory Gundlach:

        Over the last year or so I found this site very useful in researching
        Lobi artwork. As I continue this project, I have come up against yet
        another quandary--of course. Lobi research is anything but simple. 
        My most recent investigation has more to with the enthnological
        history of the 'Lobi.' And I use quotes because the term is so
        problemmatic. A while back I cited Bognolo's recent text (2007),
        Lobi, because I have been trying to reconcile her evaluation of Lobi
        figure sculptures as ancestor figures with Meyer's evaluation of the
        same as anything but. Though I received one response to this issue, I
        think the issue deserves further clarification, at least for me
        anyway. Is it simply that the figures in and around Gaoua and
        Wourbira (Meyer's area of field work) are spirit (thila) vessels and
        those that lie beyond--ancestor figures? I consulted Christopher Roy
        on this issue, particularly to do with Michael Pennie's citation of
        him in "Adventures with Lobi: an ABC" (1998): "Chistopher Roy on the
        other hand, has found that in the Gaoua region, bateba are always
        associated with ancestral spirits." 'On the other hand,' Roy stated to
        me that he has maintained, since 1979, that bateba are spirit, not
        ancestor figures. So it should be noted that Pennie's citation of Roy
        is incorrect.

        My point here is raise the issue once again--Is there a consensus as
        to which artworks function as ancestral figures within the Lobi
        region? If not, what evidence is out there to contribute to an answer
        to this question?

        This leads to a separate but related issue. How should we conceive of
        the term 'Lobi' today? It is riddled with the confused efforts of
        colonial ethnography. It is used both as an ethnonym and toponym, and
        today, since Bognolo, it has to come to my attention that the term
        incorporates surrounding peoples through ritual induction--' joro' to
        be specific. This functions as an interesting and, I think, more
        plausible alternative to the French colonial 'cercle du Lobi' ascribed
        for the sake administrative convenience. My question is: Is this
        concept of ritual induction into the 'Lobi' community an indigenous
        concept, or is it Bognolo's idea?

        From what I can gather, the Lobi 'proper' were not the first peoples
        in the area that continue to participate in the ritual. Bognolo cites
        that the Teese were there long before. Nor are the Lobi the ritual
        conductors of the 'joro' ritual--the Pwa and Jaa take the lead here. 
        So what then, legitimates the title of 'Lobi' upon those who
        participate in the ritual to begin with?

        I've been reading "Ethnicity and the Making of History in Northern
        Ghana," (2006) by Carola Lentz, and I understand that the emergence of
        the term 'Lobi' itself is of dubious origin, if indigenous values have
        any relevance, and of course they do. And while I'm not convinced
        that non-indigenous ideas are all 'wrong,' they certainly should be
        inflected with local epistemological systems. Bognolo does not make
        this distinction with reference to the 'supra-identity' of the 'Lobi'
        by virtue of 'joro.'

        I am an art history student, and it has been pointed out to me that
        maybe these issues to do with ethnological accuracy are beyond the
        scope of what we, as art historians, can offer when looking at the
        work. But I can't seem to do one without the other. Of course they
        are interrelated; any approach to the contrary seems ridiculous to me.
        So when I see the term 'Lobi,' I want to know not only how the term
        is conceived--within ritual or colonial terms, but whether the
        argument being made is indigenous or not. This last issue, for me, is

        Roy defers to Bognolo on this issue, maintaining that she may indeed
        be right, given that she has such an extensive history in-situ with
        the 'Lobi.' Unfortunately I do not speak French (someday I will...),
        so I rely on this international group membership for enlightenment.

        Contribution to this discussion is much appreciated.


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