Moba Shrine Ancestor Figure
Moba tribe, Togo
28" x 6.5"
Inventory # 10282
Among the Moba of northern Togo and Ghana, wooden figures called tchitcheri (sing. thiticherik) are prescribed by diviners to enhance the efficacy of personal, household, and village shrines. Carved from a single piece of wood, tchitcheri are rendered in highly abstract, minimalist human form.
In most field contexts these impressive statues were named after founding clan ancestors or their children. They were associated with earth shrines, called tingban, maintained by particular families who serve as custodians to shrines dedicated to the earth.
In advising individuals, families, or clans, Moba diviners prescribed tchitcheri figures to fortify their clients and improve their lives. Such works increased the efficacy of the ritual actions performed at shrines by calling forth positive ancestral influences. They were protective and promoted health and prosperity on a range of different levels. When a particular problem disrupted an individual’s life, diviners often recommended the addition of a figurative work to that person’s private altar. Similarly, problems of broader concern, such as diseased livestock, poor harvests, or infertility, often led diviners to prescribe that a larger work be commissioned for a family shrine.