by Daniela Bognolo
160 pp., paperback, 63/4 x 11 in. Visions of Africa Series. New. 64 colour ills. and 15 b/w ills. ISBN 88-7439-297-4, 5 continents editions. The art of this group, which lives in southwestern Burkina Faso, has given rise to a world of strange objects which are not comparable on all points. They can be divided into two broad functional groups, one characterised by perpetual cult objects, the other, by figures used in strictly private, aleatory 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 groups 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. These sacred artefacts are the essential recipients of the spirit of the dead, and exhibit remarkable technical mastery and creativity. They commemorate the hordes of invisible dead who are constantly present and made fearsome and powerful by the events they have lived through. An analysis of the works reveals functional affinities between the objects and shows many influences which, over the years, have blended into the formal designs of the most renowned old sculptors. Daniela Bognolo, ethnologist trained at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Religious Sciences section), assistant researcher at the CNRS/EPHE in Paris (UMR 8084 Systems of Thought in Black Africa). Since 1980, she has being leading fieldwork, especially among traditional Lobi groups and the Gan in Burkina Faso.
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