Mambila ancestral spirits are believed to be instrumental forces in the welfare of the living. While generally idealized as benevolent and the source of moral authority, ancestors nevertheless may also have an ambivalent and fickle quality. Thus, they must be placated and their goodwill humored to provide the good things in life: fertility, health, prosperity. Ancestor figures are the concrete adobe for ancestral spirits, they are offered and treated with magical and medicinal substances to dispose them well toward their living descendants. The tadep figures are characterized by a heart-shaped face, enlarged head, outlined with wooden pegs.
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