Dagari figures are the most abstract and symbolic of Lobi Figures. They
are the enigmatic, brooding sculpture that protect the Dagari subgroup of
the Lobi people of Burkina Faso. Ranging in size from 22-36" high,
most are frontal, symmetrical and timeless sentinels expressing the traditional
beliefs of the Lobi. Several depart from the norm with animated gestures,
asymmetry or a great degree of symbolic abstraction.
The figures were placed on family altars in the thilda, a small sacristy or room in each dwelling. Each figure was not a representation but an actual spirit, or tibil thil. It protected the family and home from illness and other misfortunes. The spirit could also be used for divination; it could demand offerings and additions of other figures. The accumulation of statues on a family altar gave social status and were passed on from father to son. Most were frontal and symmetrical, but some have unusually animated gestures.