The 300,000 Lobi are a farming people who live in southwestern Burkina Faso, northern Côte d'Ivoire and northwestern Ghana. They have no system of chiefs or other rulers whatsoever. The Lobi consult a diviner to discover the cause of a problem they cannot solve and the means by which to remedy it. The diviner is not told the client's problem; rather, he must contact the thila (divinities) to identify the misfortune and to ascertain which thil caused it. The appropriate thil reveals the cause and prescribes the remedy. The remedy usually entails providing an altar in the client's home for the thil on which a figure called bateba will be placed. Among the bateba are ti bala, or "extraordinary persons," of which this female figure is an example. Ti bala manifest physiological characteristics that are not normally found in human beings: having more than one body on one pair of legs, having a head on a leg, or having only one arm, such as with this example. According to the Lobi these statues are living beings which can move, speak to each other and even die when their bodies have decayed too far.
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