Dogon Standing Male Figural Mask Mali
Dogon art is not a single fixed style as has been often characterized in discussions of their sculpture, for the age of Dogon art extends to the past as early as the 12th century and continues to be created in the present with a number of sub-styles measured against the core of an identifiable Dogon art and style. The Dogon interchange stylistic elements with neighboring groups producing an interesting hybridism in some of their interesting sub-styles. This sculpture reflects an influence that neighboring groups can have on the well defined core of Dogon sculpture. West of the Dogon heartland the Dogon interact with the other major art producing people of Mali, the Bamana (Bambara).
These figures show the influence of the Mande speaking Bamana (the Dogon are Gur language speakers ‚Äì different language, different cultures!) in sculptural attributes well defined. These include a squared body, keel shaped head and ‚ÄòU'- shaped ears. A Bamana blacksmith could easily have carved the figure. If truly a Dogon figure it represented an ancestor identified to an individual, family, village or region. If an ancestor it represents either a familial ancestor or one of the original eight Nommo who descended to earth to create us, the world and continue to be interested in the affairs of man.
The Dogon people are an ethnic group who live in the central plateau region of Mali in West Africa. Dogon art is known for its distinctive style and is often characterized by intricate geometric patterns, stylized human and animal figures, and bold colors.
The Dogon people of Mali are among the oldest surviving African cultures despite the fact that throughout their existence more powerful neighbors have threatened them. For protection, until about 300 years ago the Dogon built their villages near or in the famous Bandiagara cliffs. They have thus been nicknamed the Hill, Cliff and Mountain people. Dogon art manifests in masks, architectural objects, statues and vessels.
The Dogon realize that they are not the first inhabitants of the land that they now occupy. Their myths, legends, traditions and art retain the memories of their predecessors. The Dogon people of Mali are known the world over for their creation of Dogon Doors.