GENUINE AFRICAN DOGON (MALI) BRONZE RITUAL "SPIRIT BOAT", MOST LIKELY FROM THE MID 20TH CENTURY, POSSIBLY EARLIER. A VERY NICE COLLECTIBLE ARTIFACT.
DIMENSIONS: CCA 36 X 10 X 13 CM, WEIGHT: CCA 980 GRAMS
FEW FACTS ABOUT THE DOGON:
The Dogon are an ethnic group living in the central plateau region of Mali, in West Africa, south of the Niger bend, near the city of Bandiagara and in Burkina Faso. The population numbers between 400,000 and 800,000. They speak the Dogon languages, which are considered to constitute an independent branch of the Niger–Congo language family. The Dogon are best known for their religious traditions, their mask dances, wooden sculpture and their architecture. The principal Dogon area is bisected by the Bandiagara Escarpment, a sandstone cliff of up to 500 m (1,640.42 ft) high, stretching about 150 km (90 miles). To the southeast of the cliff, the sandy Séno-Gondo Plains are found, and northwest of the cliff are the Bandiagara Highlands. Historically, Dogon villages were established in the Bandiagara area in consequence of the Dogon people's collective refusal to convert to Islam a thousand years ago.
Dogon art is primarily sculpture. Dogon art revolves around religious values, ideals, and freedoms. Dogon sculptures are not made to be seen publicly, and are commonly hidden from the public eye within the houses of families, sanctuaries, or kept with the Hogon (spiritual and political leader of the village). The importance of secrecy is due to the symbolic meaning behind the pieces and the process by which they are made. Themes found throughout Dogon sculpture consist of figures with raised arms, superimposed bearded figures, horsemen, stools with caryatids, women with children, figures covering their faces, women grinding pearl millet, women bearing vessels on their heads, donkeys bearing cups, musicians, dogs, quadruped-shaped troughs or benches, figures bending from the waist, mirror-images, aproned figures, and standing figures. Signs of other contacts and origins are evident in Dogon art. The Dogon people were not the first inhabitants of the cliffs of Bandiagara. Influence from Tellem art is evident in Dogon art because of its rectilinear designs. Bronze, Brass and iron figures are identified with Dogon myths of creation, as the blacksmith was one of the first primordial beings known as Nommo created by Ama who is one of the major Dogon deities. The identity between the Nommo and the blacksmith creates a bond and an identity that gives the blacksmith special powers which include the ability to call down rain so important in Dogon life. Figures such as this would be placed in the Binu sanctuary, a sacred shelter where the Dogon keep objects of magical importance. This sculpture reflects the artistry, power, and authority of the Dogon blacksmith, as it was he who also carved the well-known wooden sculptures used by the Dogon.