Sunday, June 18, 2017

Research outcome: Statuary from the Gurma region, Northern Togo

The Gurma people live mainly in the southeast of Burkina Faso, their main neighbors there are the Peul in the north and Mossi in the west. However, their settlement area also extends to Niger in the west and in the south to Benin and northeastern Togo where the Moba are their neighbors in the west, see map [1-4]. They are said to originate from peoples that left northern Ghana in the early 12th century and founded the Gurma kingdom, which was influential until the arrival of the French at the end of the 19th century but then lost its significance [1, 3, 4]. Alternative names for Gurma are Gourma or Gourmantche. Their language is Gurma, which is related to the Mossi language and belongs to the Oti-Volta sub-group of the Gur languages.

The Gurma are agriculturalists and live in scattered settlements of circular compounds that are composed of small earthen huts with straw roofs. The cosmology consists of the creator god (tienu) and several types of spirits such as the ancestors and buli who mediate between god and human beings [3]. Each person consists of six physical and non-physical components, i.e. gbannandi (physical body), yienu (god-consciousness), ciciliga (guiding spirit), naano (soul), cabili (destiny), and naali (ancestor form, which can incarnate). Different types of jingili altars exist in the compounds, i.e. semi-circular stone altars, in which sacrifices are offered.

Fig. 1. Figures collected (or seen [4]) in the Gurma region

Wooden and iron anthropomorphic representations originating from the Gurma are mentioned and shown in [4-6], see Fig. 1. As these figures demonstrate that they cannot be differentiated from those of their western neighbors in Togo, the Moba, with the exception of the two figures on the right, the far right one being clearly subjected to western influence according to [4]. Geis-Tronich mentioned that such post-like representations originating from the Gurma can only be found in northern Togo and the adjacent southern part of Burkina Faso, but more to the north they don’t exist [4]. This is confirmed and explained by the facts that 1) Zwernemann collected the figures shown in Fig. 1 in Nakitindi-est, i.e. in northern Togo [5], and 2) the Gurma have adopted the language and customs of the Moba in that specific region, according to Cornevin [7].

Moba figures represent cicili protective spirits that are attributed to human beings by the creator god (yendu) [5]. The cicili, even those of decedents, can ask for materialization in the form of a wooden or iron figure through a diviner. Similarly in the Gurma cosmology according to Swanson, as mentioned above, one human component is the guiding spirit, ciciliga, so the religious beliefs of the Moba and Gurma are thus similar [5]. However, Swanson did not mention the existence of any anthropomorphic representations [3]. The centers of his research region were Pama and Fada N’Gourma, which are 30-130 km to the north of Togo – thus most probably already in regions which were not under Moba influence and where such figures do not exist according to Geis-Tronich [4]. The unanswered question that rises from the fact that the Moba and Gurma have similar belief systems is why the Moba have anthropomorphic representations of the protective/guiding spirits but their neighbors, the Gurma (if uninfluenced by the Moba), do not? 

References

[1] Menjaud Henri. Documents ethnographiques sur le Gourma. Journal de la Société des Africanistes, tome 2, fascicule 1, 35-47, 1932.
[2] Froelich, Jean-Claude. Les sociétés d'initiation chez les Moba et les Gourma du Nord-Togo. In: Journal de la Société des Africanistes. 1949, tome 19, 99-141, 1949.
[3] Swanson, Richard Alan. Gourmantche ethnoanthropology: a theory of human being. University Press of America, Lanham, MD USA, 1985.
[4] Geis-Tronich, Gudrun. Materielle Kultur der Gulmance in Burkina Faso. Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, 1991.
[5] Zwernemann, Jürgen. Schutzgeistfiguren der Moba und Gurma in Nord-Togo. Tribus, Linden-Museum Stuttgart, Band 46, 157-188, 1997.
[6] Online archive of Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium, EO.1968.54.6&7, collected in Togo by Walter Verheyen.
[7] Cornevin, Robert. Histoire du Togo. Editions Berger-Levrault, Paris, 1959.


Blogspots related to the statuary of Northern Togo / Ghana:

Research outcome: Statuary from the Kabye-Kabre region, Northern Togo. Blogspot 10.06.2017.
Research outcome: Statuary from the Tchamba region, Northern Togo. Blogspot 20.05.2017.
Research outcome: Statuary from the Temba region, Northern Togo. Blogspot 06.05.2017.
Research outcome: Statuary from the Konkomba region, Northern Ghana-Togo. Blogspot 21.04.2017.
Research outcome: Statuary from the Kusasi region, Northern Ghana-Togo. Blogspot 31.03.2017.
Fact check: Tamberma Power Figure? Blogspot 18.03.2017.




Saturday, June 10, 2017

Research outcome: Statuary from the Kabye-Kabre region, Northern Togo

The Kabye (or Kabiye-Kabre) people live in the Kabye massifs in the southeast of the main Atakora mountain chain, in the Kozah and Bimah prefectures of the Kara region in northeastern Togo, see map [1]. Their main neighbors are the Losso and Lamba in the north, in the south the Temba and Tchamba, the Bassari in the west and in the east the Bariba (amongst others, in Benin). They are considered as being autochthonous, originating from the former Lama (as the northern Lamba do). Their language is Kabye, which is related to that of the Temba and Lamba.

Several ethnological studies exist about the Kabye, compiled between 1898 and 1996 [2-5]. They live in the typical scattered settlements of northern Togo and are known for their terrace cultivation. The society is acephalous – the clan is the basic unit – and organized in different male and female age groups, the transition between the groups being marked by initiation rituals. The cosmology consists of a creator god and several spirits, including those of the ancestors. It is believed that human beings contain a spiritual power (kalizay) that is released after death and can be transformed into an ancestor and return in a newborn baby. The settlements always comprise an ancestor house where ancestor shrines in the form of earth mounds are installed. Other benevolent and malicious spirits (the akolma and alewa respectively) and fertility spirits (waynima) exist [4].

Fig. 1. Kabye terracotta objects

Different types of anthropomorphic representations were described in the above-cited studies. Verdier [4] mentioned pieces of wood replacing deceased twins and terracotta figures (called siwkpelasi) and heads representing ancestors, in addition to fertility dolls, also made of terracotta, all of them exhibiting scarifications, see Fig. 1. He also displayed a photo with a helmet of a dancer, on which, between the two horns, a wooden figure is placed, see Fig. 2. Unfortunately, the signification of this figure is not described. In a more recent photo, also shown in Fig. 2, the wooden figure is replaced by a western puppet. Hahn [5], who studied the material culture of the Kabye, referred to the terracotta ancestor and fertility figures mentioned by Verdier and further enumerated clay figures (sukpele) that represent deceased twins. He did not mention any wooden anthropomorphic figures. Krieger [7] already showed a terracotta figure in 1969 attributed to the Kabye with traces of white painting, denominated ‘’fetish made of clay, placed in the fields’’, collected in 1907 by Kersting, see Fig. 1.

Fig. 2. Typical Kabye scarifications, sculpture with (uncertain) Kabye attribution, helmets with wooden figure and western puppet

Amrouche [8] further showed a small terracotta head similar to that in Fig. 1, dated by thermoluminescence in the 17th century. In 1992 [9], he published a photo of the large wooden sculpture shown in Fig. 2 and attributed it to the Kabye. The same sculpture was sold by Christie’s in 2016 [10], designated as ancestor figure and attributed to the ''Kabye-Tem'', i.e. the Kabye or their southern neighbors, Tem. However, the accompanying text only referred to the Kabye and did not mention the Tem. This rather ambiguous cataloguing may somehow take into account the fact that no other sources mention such wooden figures originating from the Kabye, as described above, in contrast to the case of the Tem (or Temba), where several photos of similar figures were published, albeit with less pronounced scarifications, as shown in a previous Blogspot [11]

References

[1] Gayibor, Nicoué Lodjou. Le peuplement du Togo – état actuel des connaissances historiques. Université du Benin, Les Presses de l’UB, Lomé, 1996.
[2] Zech, Julius. Mitteilungen von Forschungsreisenden und Gelehrten aus den deutschen Schutzgebieten - Vermischte Notizen über Togo und das Togo Hinterland. Bd. 11, 142, 1898.
[3] Froelich, Jean-Claude. Généralités sur les Kabre du Nord-Togo. Bulletin de l’IFAN, Dakar, Vol. 11, No. 1/2: 77-105, 1949.
[4] Verdier, Raymond. Le pays kabiyè – cité des dieux, cité des hommes. Editions Karthala, Paris, 1982.
[5] Hahn, Hans Peter. Die materielle Kultur der Konkomba, Kabyè und Lamba in Nord-Togo. Rüdiger Köppe Verlag, Köln, 1996.
[7] Krieger, Kurt. Westafrikanische Plastik II. Museums für Völkerkunde, Berlin, 1969.
[8] Amrouche, Pierre. Corps & décors, statuaire Lamba et Losso du Togo. Editions Berggruen, Paris, 2008.
[9] Amrouche, Pierre. Invitation: "Togo, art du pays des pierres", Paris: Galerie Amrouche, Bohbot, Keeser, 23 June 1992
(photo Yale-Van Rijn Archive, no. 0090591).
[10] Christie’s Paris, sale 12692, lot 252, 23 June 2016.
[11] Keller, Thomas. Research outcome: Statuary from the Temba region, Northern Togo. Blogspot 06.05.2017.


Blogspots related to the statuary of Northern Togo / Ghana:

Research outcome: Statuary from the Tchamba region, Northern Togo. Blogspot 20.05.2017.
Research outcome: Statuary from the Temba region, Northern Togo. Blogspot 06.05.2017.
Research outcome: Statuary from the Konkomba region, Northern Ghana-Togo. Blogspot 21.04.2017.
Research outcome: Statuary from the Kusasi region, Northern Ghana-Togo. Blogspot 31.03.2017.
Fact check: Tamberma Power Figure? Blogspot 18.03.2017.
  


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Fact check: Standing female figure, 19th century, Madagascar, Sakalava

The attribution of a Madagascar figure to the Sakalava and the 19th century is verified and discussed in the following.

1) Factual statement

According to [1] and the photo in Fig. 1 left:
Standing female figure, 19th century, Madagascar, Sakalava,
wood, matt black patina, prominent face with short nose and bicoloured eyes, coiffure with inserted wooden pegs (partly missing/resp. dam.), body veiled/wrapped in beige-coloured cotton cloth and fine plaited grass fibre skirt, slightly dam., rep. (right foot tip), base, 33cm. Comparing Literature:
Goy, Bertrand, Arts anciens de Madagascar, Milan 2015, p.175, ill. 108, [2]
Jack, Anthony, Africa, Relics of the Colonial Era, London 1991 (Cover), [3]


Fig. 1. Figure in question [1], Betsileo figure showing a Sakalava woman [4], figures in references [2] and [3]

2) State-of-the-art knowledge

Numerous Madagascar figures similar to the one in question are to be found in the collection of the Linden Museum in Stuttgart, Germany, and were published in [4], see Figs. 1 and 2. Their acquisition was based on a mandate to build up a Madagascar collection, awarded in 1899 by Count Karl von Linden to the Consul Henry O’Swald, who lived in Tamatave, Madagascar. Between 1901 and 1903 the museum thus obtained 795 objects from different regions of Madagascar, including the series of figures shown in Fig. 2 in August 1901. According to O’Swald these figures originate from the Betsileo people and represent persons in different life situations and from different ethnic groups of Madagascar, the latter as specified in Fig. 2.


Fig. 2. Betsileo figures in the Linden Museum Collection, Stuttgart [4], collected by O’Swald before 1901

Goy [2] published two similar figures, shown in Fig. 1 (middle: 31, 35 cm). He also mentioned the O’Swald provenance, without however referring to the Betsileo origin, and designated them as objects of curiosity without any cultural purpose. Jack further reproduced three similar figures in [3], see Fig. 1 (right: 2x 25, 25.5cm), and attributed them to the Sakalava, referring to the coiffure represented by knobbed pegs, typical of the Sakalava.

3) Discussion and conclusions

From Goy’s reference it cannot be derived that the figure in question originates from the Sakalava. Jack seems not to have had any knowledge about the O’Swald background and his attribution to the Sakalava seems erroneously based on the typical Sakalava coiffure. Based on the above facts it seems clear that the figure in question does not originate from the Sakalava, but from the Betsileo. However, a comparison with the red-framed similar figure in Fig. 2, also shown in Fig. 1, shows that the figure in question most probably represents a Sakalava woman. Such figures were carved at the end of the 19th century, but certainly also later and it cannot be concluded that the figure in question originates from the 19th century. The factual statements made in [1] thus cannot be validated.

4) References

[1] Zemanek auction catalogue, 27.05.2017, lot 499.
[2] Goy, Bertrand. Arts anciens de Madagascar. 5 Continents, Milan, 2015.
[3] Jack, Anthony. Africa: relics of the colonial era. Michael Graham-Stewart, London, 1991.
[4] Roth, Rolf B. Madagaskar – Land zwischen den Kontinenten. Linden Museum, Stuttgart, 1994.




Saturday, June 3, 2017

Fact check: LOBI tête piquet "baàthil", en fonte d'aluminium

The fact that a Lobi head-stake is cast in aluminum and the ‘’baàthil-milkuur’’ denomination are verified and discussed in the following.

1) Factual statement

According to [1] and the photo in Fig. 1 left:
LOBI Tête piquet "baàthil", en fonte d'aluminium. Très beau visage aux trait finements travaillés. De larges yeux en amande dominant un visage effilé. De grande oreilles, ainsi qu'une coiffure finement stylisée dominée par une crête centrale, rappelant la coiffure adoptée par les pères durant l'initiation de leurs fils au joro, Ces têtes étaient (et sont encore) fichées dans le sol, à l'entrée de la demeure familiale sur un autel (milkuur). Fonte d'aluminium à patine terreuse, h:33cm.
According to the expert for the sale, such heads were cast by the Lorhon in Bouna (in the north of the Ivory Coast).
Fig. 1. Lobi aluminum head-stake in question and similar example


2) State-of-the-art knowledge

The size, shape and appearance of the head-stake in question resemble that of Lobi head-stakes, however, the latter are carved in wood and not cast in aluminum. Cast metallic Lobi objects nevertheless exist, but normally they are of brass or bronze [2], the former being a copper-zinc and the latter a copper-tin alloy, both cast using the lost wax process. According to [3], the Lorhon were the first copper alloy casters; they migrated southward from the Inner Niger Delta to Kong in northern Ivory Coast after 1400. From there they moved back to the north and north-east into the Senufo and Kulango regions at around 1700.

Fig. 2. Early aluminum objects in the Quai Branly Museum Collection of West Africa (masks covered with sheets)

Aluminum, however, has also been used in tribal art since the 1920s [4], numerous examples can be found in the Quai Branly Museum collection for instance, as shown in Fig. 2, i.e. bracelets, hairpins, zoomorphic figures or sheet coverings of wooden masks, etc. Compared to wood, metals offer the advantage of much higher durability, stiffness and strength. Of the cast metals used, aluminum has further advantages over brass and bronze, i.e. the lower melting point (660°C vs. 800-1100°C) and the lower (dynamic) viscosity of the melted metal (0.9 vs. 4.4 cP, the latter for copper [5]) – i.e. the viscosity of melted aluminum is similar to that of water – the workability is thus much better and larger objects can be cast more easily. Furthermore, the glossy appearance is attractive for precious objects. The reason aluminum was still not used more in the past, regardless of its advantages, may be that only collected waste material could be processed, i.e. recycled, the electrolysis of the base material, bauxite, being inaccessible to local craftsmen.

Fig. 3. Aluminum objects of different size and origin ([8] with aluminum paint)

More recent aluminum objects are shown in Fig. 3 [6-9], among which also cast Lobi objects are represented, e.g. a large pendent from the former Blandin collection. The further use of aluminum for highly stressed objects such as slingshots and walking sticks in particular, also shown in Fig. 3, seems to make sense. Adzes/axes may have served as regalia. Several similar objects were also published by Jaenicke [10]. They originated from the estate of Ba Moussa, a tribal art dealer who died in 2009 in Ouagadougou.

3) Discussion and conclusions

Coming back to the aluminum head-stake in question, a similar example, thus most probably from the same workshop, was sold by Mignot [7], see Fig. 1 (right). The reason for these head-stakes being cast in aluminum cannot be ascertained, nor whether they were manufactured for cultural use or not. They are certainly much more durable than wooden examples since the stakes are sometimes stuck into the ground. Considering their size and weight (about 3.5 kg, the head-stake is not hollow, in contrast to e.g. cast Benin bronze heads) and the small number of known examples, they do not appear to be an appropriate mass product for touristic sale.

Certainly the good workability of the material, as mentioned above, has facilitated the large-scale manufacturing. The origin indicated above seems plausible since the Lorhon also migrated from Kong in the direction of Bouna (according to the map in [3]) where Lobi live too, and the Lorhon would certainly also have been able to cast aluminum.

Concerning the ‘’baàthil-milkuur’’ attribution in the cataloguing, this was referred to in a previous blogspot where this attribution of Lobi head-stakes was discussed in detail. The discussion will thus not be repeated here but the conclusion was that this attribution cannot be generally validated.

4) References

[1] Hôtel des Ventes du Périgord, catalogue, 03.06.2017, lot 27.
[2] Meyer P (1981). Kunst und Religionen der Lobi. Ausstellungskatalog, Museum Rietberg, Zürich.
[3] Glar W, Krüger K-J. The Lorhon, the first casters on the gold route. Published in Serra D (2015). Les Lorhon, premiers fondeurs de la route de l’or. Exhibition Catalogue, Parcours des Mondes.
[4] Plateau J, Grinberg I, Renaux T. Aluminium et arts tribaux dans la collection Jean Plateau-IHA. Institut pour l’histoire de l’aluminium, Cahiers d'histoire de l'aluminium, 41, pp. 6-41, 2008.
[5] Hildebrand JH, Lamoreau RH. Viscosity of liquid metals: An interpretation. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol. 73, No. 4, pp. 988-989, 1976.
[6] Lombrail Teucquam. Collection André Blandin, 05.04.2014, lots 45, 46, 61.
[7] Galerie Bruno Mignot, 67610 La Wantzenau, France: aluminum objects, aluminum head.
[8] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0064320 (publ. 1951).
[9] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0100171 (publ. 1989).
[10] Jaenicke W. Blogspots, 28.06.2015 and 23.05.2016.

Blogspots related to Lobi heads

Fact check: Lobi head stake, ‘’baathil – khele – milkuur’’ attribution. Blogspot 25.03.2017.
Research outcome: Sikire Kambire ″Mask″ vs. ″Head″ denomination. Blogspot 12.03.2017.



Saturday, May 27, 2017

Fact check: Face mask, Burkina Faso, Lobi

The cataloguing of a Lobi mask is verified and discussed in the following.

1) Factual statement

According to [1] and in addition to the photos on the left:
Face mask, Burkina Faso, Lobi, 27cm, wood, dark red pigment, black paint, accurately incised grooved coiffure, separated from the facial plane by a raised band, semicircular eyes with raised rim and drilled pupils, band scarifications at the temples, nose with "hanging" tip, slightly dam., abrasion of paint; a work of Sikire Kambire from Gaoua (1896 - 5.Okt.1963) or his workshop. (Compare characteristica mentioned above with Piet Meyer, 1981, ill. 159).

Fig. 1. Mask in question (left), ‘’mask’’ of same period (middle), relief-head in its almost final shape (right)

2) State-of-the-art knowledge and discussion

The state-of-the-art knowledge concerning the background of Sikire Kambire’s ‘’masks’’ was already discussed in three previous posts, see list and links below, and this discussion will not be repeated here.

The ‘’mask’’ in question fits into the series shown in [2], i.e. in the development from the first copies of a Baule mask up to the final shape denominated ‘’relief-head’’ in [2]. Fig. 1 shows two examples of this development, in the middle a ‘’mask’’ acquired between 1921-24 [3] and on the right one denominated by Labouret as export product [4] (also represented in [5]).

The interesting fact about the ‘’mask’’ in question is that it seems to mark the transition to Sikire’s relief-heads exhibiting two horns, as shown in Fig. 2.

Fig. 2 Potential transition to relief-heads with horns
3) Conclusions

The attribution of this ‘’mask’’ to Sikire Kambire seems correct. The ‘’mask’’ may represent a significant testimony to the development of the horns exhibited on many of Sikire’s relief-heads, if this interpretation is applicable.

4) References

[1] Zemanek auction catalogue, 27.05.2017, lot 215.
[2] Keller, Thomas. Lobi Statuary – Sikire Kambire. Keller Arts Premiers, Switzerland, 2015. Free download here.
[3] Zerbini, Laurick. Collection d’art africain du Musée de Grenoble – un patrimoine dévoilé. 5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2008.
[4] Labouret, Henri. Les tribus du rameau Lobi. Travaux et mémoires de l’Institut d’Ethnologie 15, Paris 1931.
[5] Meyer, Piet (1981). Kunst und Religionen der Lobi. Ausstellungskatalog, Museum Rietberg, Zürich.


Blogspots related to Sikire masks / relief-heads

Fact check: Lobi masks (relief-heads). Blogspot 04.04.2017.
Research outcome: Sikire Kambire ″Mask″ vs. ″Head″ denomination. Blogspot 12.03.2017b.
Fact check: Masks from Sikire Kambire’s workshop? Blogspot 12.03.2017a.




Saturday, May 20, 2017

Research outcome: Statuary from the Tchamba region, Northern Togo

The Tchamba people live in the Tchamba canton of the Nyala prefecture of the Centrale region in Northern Togo, see map; a village called Tchamba is also located in this canton. Their main neighbors are the Temba/Kotokoli in the west, the Bassari (or Bi-Tschambe) in the northwest, the Kabye in the north and the Bariba in the east (in Benin, amongst others); the south is only sparsely populated. The Tchamba, already mentioned in 1898 [1], are a complex and heterogeneous ethnic group composed of an autochthonous core (originally Lama) and Bi-Tchambe, Temba, Bariba, Ana, Anago, Ewe, etc. who have gradually immigrated [2, 3]. Accordingly, Froelich listed eight clans in 1960, living in the Tchamba canton and of different origins: Lare (origin Tcham, politically dominant), Dopou (Bariba), Koli and Sangbe (both Lama), Nadjo, Dikeni and Nanto (all Temba), and Nintche (Bassari) [3]. The Tchamba call themselves Kaselem, their language is Akaselem, which is close to the Tobote of the Bassari [2] and belongs to the Oti-Volta sub-group of the Gur languages. 

Fig. 1. Sculptures attributed to the Tchamba of Togo, published since 1992

Ethnological field studies concerning the Tchamba are rare. The most comprehensive document was established by Froelich [3], which contains a chapter about the Tchamba canton, but mainly focuses on the different settlements and their history. Although animistic beliefs similar to those of the neighbors in the north and northwest [4] still exist, islamization is well advanced. In addition, there also exists a strong Vodun complex, called Tchamba Vodun, which is based on former slavery [5]. In particular, the Mami Tchamba spirit is venerated. The presence of the Tchamba Vodun is not mentioned in [1-3].

Fig. 2. (Atypical) sculptures attributed to the Tchamba of Togo, probably from the same workshop

No references or images/photos of anthropomorphic representations attributed to the Tchamba can be found in the ethnological literature. In tribal art-related publications, sculptures attributed to the Tchamba were first published in the early 90s of the last century, see Fig. 1. They are often of large scale (>60cm), their iconography is similar to that of the Temba, however more complex if compared to Fig. 2 in [4]. The volumes of the body parts are more differentiated, a cylindrical overall shape can no longer be recognized, the legs are often more flexed and many more details are shown. Typical elements however are retained, e.g. the angulated arms or the frequent more or less high crest. Scarifications can be seen in some cases, but they are not frequent. The resemblance of the Tchamba statuary to that of the neighboring Temba may be also explained by the significant presence of Temba originating groups and the fact that the former Bassari (Bi-Tchambe) don’t use wooden anthropomorphic representations [6].

Photos of a particular set of figures attributed to the Tchamba, which however does not fit into the iconography shown in Fig. 1, have been gradually published since 2007, see Fig. 2. The shape of these figures is much more rounded, the posture with the positioning of the forward stretched arms and the heavily encrusted patina are significantly different if compared with Fig. 1. The eyes are identically represented by cowry shells – it seems that these figures originate from the same hand or workshop. The different appearance of these figures may either be explained by their use in the above-mentioned Vodun cult – whose figures and patina more closely resemble this set – or they may not originate from the Tchamba.


Fig. 3. Sculptures attributed to the Chamba of Nigeria/Cameroon

The Tchamba of Northern Togo should not be confused with the Chamba living in the east-central Nigeria region and the neighboring parts of north Cameroon, to the south of the Benue River. On the Cameroon side, however, as in Togo, a village called Tchamba exists. Frobenius also denominated this people ‘’Tchamba’’ [21]. Both peoples are however not related, the Chamba always lived in their area and only local migrations occurred, mainly due to the Fulani Jihad at the beginning of the 19th century [22]. They speak two distantly related languages, the Chamba Daka and Chamba Leko, the former belonging to the Dakoid group and the latter to the Leko–Nimbari group of the Niger-Congo languages.

The iconography of the Chamba statuary has similarities to that of the Tchamba, however, significant and typical differences exist, as shown in Fig. 3. In most cases, the shoulder joints are pushed forward, sometimes even located in front of the body. The arms are also angulated, either detached from the body or carved in relief. In the latter case, the body has often the shape of a slender, cylindrical column [23]. Head crests are often exhibited, as on Tchamba figures, however, frequent conical head-superstructures, as shown in Fig. 3, do not exist in the Tchamba iconography. There are numerous figures however where these differences are less pronounced and a clear attribution based purely on style is difficult.


References

[1] Zech, Julius. Mitteilungen von Forschungsreisenden und Gelehrten aus den deutschen Schutzgebieten - Vermischte Notizen über Togo und das Togo Hinterland. Bd. 11, 89-161, 1898.
[2] Cornevin, Robert. Histoire du Togo. Editions Berger-Levrault, Paris, 1959.
[3] Froelich, Jean-Claude; Alexandre, Pierre. Histoire traditionnelle des Kotokoli et Bi-Tchambi. Bulletin de l’IFAN, Dakar, Série B, Vol. 22, No. 1/2: 211-275, 1960.
[4] Keller, Thomas. Research outcome: Statuary from the Temba region, Northern Togo. Blogspot 06.05.2017.
[5] Rush, Dana. In Remembrance of Slavery: Tchamba Vodun. African Diaspora Archaeology Newsletter, 14/2, 2011.
[6] Hahn, Hans Peter. Die materielle Kultur der Bassar (Nord-Togo). Franz Steiner Verlag Stuttgart, 1991.
[7] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0108014 (Horstmann 2008).
[8] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0112682 (Bloom 2009, re-attributed to the Tchamba, see [20]).
[9] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0058965 (Calmels Cohen 2005).
[10] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0076884 (Schädler 1992).
[11] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0127714 (Rive Gauche 2011).
[12] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0076795 (Schädler 1994).
[13] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0089407 (Sotheby’s 1994).
[14] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0081746 (Kirbach 2006).
[15] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0072062 (Neumeister 2006, Zemanek 2011).
[16] Zemanek, 27.05.2017, Lot 284.
[17] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0075765 (Pecci 2007)
[18] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0110449 (Pecci 2009)
[19] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0131822 (Lempertz 2012, designated ‘’Lemba’’)
[20] Keller, Thomas. Research outcome: Statuary from the Konkomba region, Northern Ghana-Togo. Blogspot 21.04.2017.
[21] Frobenius, Leo. Und Afrika Sprach. Deutsches Verlagshaus, Berlin, Band III, 1913.
[22] Fardon, Richard. A chronology of pre-colonial Chamba history. Frobenius Institut, Paideuma, 29, 67-92, 1983.
[23] Fardon, Richard; Stelzig, Christine. Column to volume: formal innovation in Chamba statuary. Saffron books, University of Michigan, 2005.
[24] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0012920 (1920-1940).
[25] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0014362 (publ. 1972).
[26] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0048565 (Schädler 1973).
[27] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0053052 (Sotheby's 1990).
[28] Evers, Christophe. Art of the upper Benue River. Arsmundi, 2003.
[29] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0129451 (Sotheby's 2011).
[30] Yale-Van Rijn Archive, No. 0132138 (publ. 1976).
  

Blogspots related to the statuary of Northern Togo / Ghana

Research outcome: Statuary from the Temba region, Northern Togo. Blogspot 06.05.2017.
Research outcome: Statuary from the Konkomba region, Northern Ghana-Togo. Blogspot 21.04.2017.
Research outcome: Statuary from the Kusasi region, Northern Ghana-Togo. Blogspot31.03.2017.
Fact check: Tamberma Power Figure? Blogspot 18.03.2017.

Homepage: www.statuary-in-context.ch

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Research outcome: Statuary from the Temba region, Northern Togo

The Temba people live in the Tchaudjo and Assoli prefectures of the Centrale and Kara regions in Northern Togo. The settlement area extends to the eastern border with Benin and the Tchamba people, in the northeast to the Kabye and northwest to the Bassari-Ntcham. In the west, Dagomba tribes are located, in the south live also some Kabye and Losso [1], although part of it is inhabited (see map). The Temba are a complex and heterogeneous ethnic group composed of an autochthonous rural population (originally Lama-Lamba) and equestrian people as well as dealers and shepherds (which also brought Islam), who have gradually immigrated mainly from the north (Gurma), the west (Dagomba, Bassari) and east (Bariba) since the 17th century [1, 2, 3]. The predominant Mola clan, established by the Gurma, founded several village communities that joined together to form the influential Tchaudjo kingdom (also denominated Kotokoli) at the beginning of the 19th century. The influence of this kingdom started to decrease however with colonization [4]. Common to this resulting ethnic mixture is the language, Tem, which belongs to the Gurunsi sub-group of the Gur languages. Alternative denominations for Temba are Tem, Tim, Tembia, Kotokoli.


Fig. 1. Figures from Temba region in 1907-09, Frobenius Image Archive, designated ‘’Tim’’

The cosmology of the Temba is not very developed (in non-islamicized regions), which may be attributed to the strong ethnic mixture [2]. Earlier myths and rituals of the autochthonous people were not maintained, e.g. collective initiation ceremonies do not exist. They adhere to similar animistic beliefs to those of the neighboring people, including a creator god, different types of benevolent and malicious spirits, ancestor worship and reincarnation beliefs [1, 3]. Benevolent but invisible spirits are the arzini, which can habit objects, known as lezazi, e.g. conical mounds or wooden figures that are sacrificed [1]. Frobenius mentioned clay and wooden figures as early as 1913 [5], which appeared in pairs and were denominated lisa, lissassi or lesassi, see Fig. 1. Female figures were designated tjettere, and male figures djere. These figures do not represent ancestors, they protect against illness and other misfortunes.


Fig. 2. Figures collected in Temba-Kotokoli region or attributed to Temba-Kotokoli

Although several ethnological field studies concerning the traditional religion and socio-political organization of the Temba were established [1-6], few of them [1, 5] mention the existence of sculptures and figures and their function. In the tribal art-related literature, however, several sculptures attributed to the Temba were documented at a very early stage. Markov displayed a photo of a large (125 cm) sculpture in 1919 [7] (see Fig. 2, on the far left, collected by Thierry in 1899 [8]), which was then also published in 1954 [9] and 1979 [10]. Further figures are shown or referenced in 1954 [9] and 1969 [8 (collected in 1907), 11], see Fig. 2. Amongst others, a photo of a second very large statue (153 cm) was published in [11], see Fig. 2, far right. No information about the function of these large sculptures is available, i.e. if they also serve as lezazi or have different purposes, maybe on the clan or village and not individual level.

Characteristic in the iconography of these figures is the basic cylindrical shape (typical for all northern Togo figures) and particularly the angled forearms where the hands (in most cases) approach and are at the same height as the genitals, see Fig. 2. Compared to the northern Moba and Kusasi [12], these figures portray much more detail of the face and body. Often a high crest is exhibited which may be in line with the nose bridge. Smaller figures, however, may approach the simpler shape and appearance of the neighboring Lamba and Losso figures [13] (see Fig. 2, 3rd from the right), which exhibit simplified arms and flat heads in most cases. However, in contrast to the Lamba/Losso, the (published) figures attributed to the Temba do not display any scarifications. Other figures designated as being Temba/Kotokoli do not really fit into this iconography (e.g. the 2nd and 3rd ones from the left in Fig. 2), which may be attributed to similar reasons as those mentioned in the case of the Konkomba in [14].


References

[1] Mamah, Fousseni Abby-Alphah Ouro-Djobo. La culture traditionnelle et la littérature orale des Tem. Steiner, Stuttgart (Dissertation Universität Frankfurt am Main), 1981.
[2] Alexandre, Pierre. Organisation politique des Kotokoli du Nord-Togo. Cahiers d’études africaines, Vol. 4, No. 14: 228-274, 1963.
[3] Adjeoda, Roger. Ordre politique et rituels thérapeutiques chez les Tem du Togo. L’Harmattan, Paris, 2000.
[4] Gayibor, Nicoué Lodjou. Le peuplement du Togo – état actuel des connaissances historiques. Université du Benin, Les Presses de l’UB, Lomé, 1996.
[5] Frobenius, Leo. Und Afrika sprach, Band 3: Unter den unsträflichen Aethiopen. Vita, Berlin, 1913.
[6] Froelich, Jean-Claude; Alexandre, Pierre. Histoire traditionnelle des Kotokoli et Bi-Tchambi. Bulletin de l’IFAN, Dakar, Série B, Vol. 22, No. 1/2: 211-275, 1960.
[7] Markov, Vladimir. Iskusstvo Negrov. Peterburg: Izd. Otdela izobrazitelʹnykh iskusstv Narodnogo komissariata po prosveshcheniiu, 1919.
[8] Krieger, Kurt. Westafrikanische Plastik Band I/II. Museum für Völkerkunde, Berlin, 1965/69.
[9] Sydow, Eckart von. Afrikanische Plastik. Aus dem Nachlass herausgegeben von Gerdt Kutscher, Verlag Gebr. Mann, Berlin, 1954.
[10] Gillon, Werner; Forman, Werner; Furman, Jo; Elisofon, Eliot. Collecting African Art. Rizzoli, New York, 1979. 
[11] Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, collected by Walter Verheyen, acquired 1969.
[12] Keller, Thomas. Research outcome: Statuary from the Kusasi region, Northern Ghana-Togo. Blogspot 31.03.2017.
[13] Amrouche, Pierre. Corps & décors, statuaire Lamba et Losso du Togo. Editions Berggruen, Paris, 2008.
[14] Keller, Thomas. Research outcome: Statuary from the Konkomba region, Northern Ghana-Togo. Blogspot 21.04.2017.


Further blogspots related to the statuary of Northern Togo / Ghana

Research outcome: Statuary from the Konkomba region, Northern Ghana-Togo. Blogspot 21.04.2017.
Research outcome: Statuary from the Kusasi region, Northern Ghana-Togo. Blogspot 31.03.2017.
Fact check: Tamberma Power Figure? Blogspot 18.03.2017.