Dogon Maternity Figure with Child Mali
This is a Dogon maternity figure. The veneration of motherhood and the promotion of fertility through statuary is an enduring theme found throughout most of West Africa. The Dogon are no exception, though maternity figures are not as numerous as those from groups in the Congo and other countries. The dignity and overall proportions of our figure are magical. The face is proud and dignified, with an exquisite profile.
The oral tradition of the Dogon tells us that they originated on the west bank of the Niger River about 1000 years ago. They moved west at some point, into parts of what is now Mossi territory in Burkina Faso, but chose to return east due to pressure to assimilate into the Mossi Kingdom. This time, around 1500, they found a place almost unreachable by invaders on horseback, the arid but imposing Bandiagara Cliffs. Here most of the Dogon have remained to this day, as one of Africa's most spiritual people. Dogon family dwellings, as well as their shrines and granaries, are constructed in a uniquely haunting way, leaving even the most jaded observer spellbound, in what can only be described as a magic kingdom. The Dogon have also taken the time-honored worship of ancestors to new heights, and their huge pantheon of statues and colorful masks reflect this. It is possible today for tourists and scholars to arrange masked dances for public view, but these dances are for entertainment only, and few of the mask-forms are actually revealed. Ritually meaningful dances are not shared with the public. There has been much written on the Dogon, for good reason, and one can find information and pictures in most texts.