Tribal art > African fetish > Dogon Altar
Dogon Ritual Sculpture (N° 19815)
Created with great sensitivity, this sculpture, which belonged to a lineage, reflects one of the many facets of the Dogon worldview. The statuette at the top represents the incarnation of an ancestor, the ladder allowing the ascent of spirits to the afterlife. The gradations also form an image of the different stages of an individual's life toward the ultimate goal. The gobo , iron hook, is stuck into the wood, recalling the sacred role of the blacksmith. Grainy sacrificial patina, light chips.
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The Dakar-Djibouti mission of 1931, led by Marcel Griaule, was charged with studying in depth the rites of this population established in the region of the Bandiagara cliffs. The Dogon are thought to be composed of several peoples who found refuge there following repeated droughts or invasions. This work has been completed by many eminent researchers and anthropologists. Dogon statues can be the object of worship by the entire community when they commemorate, for example, the founding of the village. The statues, sometimes embodying the nyama of the deceased, are placed on ancestor altars and participate in various rituals including those of the seed and harvest periods. Their functions, however, remain little known.
Dogon blacksmiths, forming an endogamous caste named irim, today produce weapons, tools, and also work with wood. "Masters of fire", they are also supposed to cure burns ("Dogon", Huib Bloom).
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