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This bronze sculpture comes from the Dogon people of central Mali. Such figures usually represent spirits or ancestors and would be placed in shrines where they would be treated with great respect.
Dogon art is extremely versatile, although common stylistic characteristics – such as a tendency towards stylization – are apparent on the statues. Their art deals with the tribe’s ancient myths and the sculptures are preserved in innumerable sites of worship, personal or family altars, altars for rain, altars to protect hunters and alters in marketplaces. As a general characterization of Dogon statues, they usually render the human body in a simplified way, reducing it to its essentials. Some are extremely elongated with emphasis on geometric forms.
Dogon art presents a broad range of object types and styles. Among the human figures alone, some are well over life-size, while others are barely a few inches in height. Their repertoire of gestures is also varied, and includes figures standing, kneeling, sitting, playing musical instruments, or riding, raising one or both arms in a variety of poses, and holding or wearing articles related to their gender, age, occupation or social status. In style they vary from full-volumed, sensitively modelled sculptures that are highly descriptive in their details to works that are reduced to abstract geometric shapes stripped of all but the barest references to human anatomy.
The Dogon place figures depicting men and women on many different kinds of altars, most of which are dedicated to ancestors, either real or mythical. Each lineage possesses an altar containing figurative sculptures, which is dedicated to its founders and to subsequent members who have died, known as vageu. In addition to altars dedicated to the ancestors, some Dogon figures are placed on altars made to augment and strengthen a living individual’s personal force, or nyama. Dogon rain-making altars, called andugo, have also been found with figure sculptures. The andugo are the focus of sacrifices to Nommo, who, as Master of Water, is manifested in every body of water on earth, including the rain falling from the sky.
Size: 110mm x 90mm x 40mm
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