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?
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.
----- Original Message ----
From: paolo paretti <paolo@...>
Sent: Monday, February 18, 2008 3:49:31 PM
Subject: Re: [African_Arts] 'Lobi'
recently I asked Binathé Kambou - the guide of many ethnologistis,
(Piet Meyer, Gottschalk, Bosc, Bognolo etc.)
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
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
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
figures. So it should be noted that Pennie's citation of Roy
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
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.