The Bidjogo (also known as Bijogo, Bijagó, Bidyogo and Bidyugo) people of Bissagos (also Bijagós) archipelago, in current day Guinea Bissau, believe that the spirit of deceased family members live on past the expiration of the person's body, but only for as long as the soul is remembered by surviving family members.
At death, the surviving members create a wooden figure (iran otibago, also known as ira or Eraminhô) within which the spirit of the ancestor resides. Sacrifices are regularly made to the figure to appease the ancestor within. It is also stated that a villager looking to tend a field or grow crops from the land must also offer animal sacrifices to the iran otibago figure asking ancestors for approval to make use of the land and for a successful harvest. After the harvest, the farmer is also required to present a portion of the crops to the iran otibago as an offering of gratitude.
Sources state that the figures are also used as a medium for consultation with the Supreme Being (Orrebuco-Ocoto) and also used for:1
Iran otibago figures are stored in a traditional candjamo shrine maintained by a female priest (oquinca).
All iran otibago figures fall under four main forms:
Common features among all iran otibago figures: