Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Male figure

Photo: Elizabeth Mann

Male figure

20th century

Lobi figures demonstrate what can happen when carving is a household obligation. Anyone could carve a sculpture for thila, supernatural spirits endowed with special powers. Carvers had a set model to follow, with figures having enlarged heads, squared shoulders, flexed knees and faces set in determination to protect the families in their midst. These figures exist in huge numbers, with variations in style and degree of finish, bearing clear witness to the extent of this everyday aesthetic experience. No Lobi house was without a small shrine room where such statues waited to provide counseling. They would expect offerings of food in return, and the residue of this has eaten away the surfaces and feet of certain figures.
Height: 21in. (53.3cm)
Gift of Dr. Oliver E. and Pamela F. Cobb
Provenance: [Argile Gallery, London]; purchased from gallery by present owner
Photo: Elizabeth Mann
Not currently on view

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

Learn more about Equity at SAM