African art > Head rest > Tellem neck support
Dogon Tellem neck support (N° 20256)
Daily use has abraded and matified this soberly made neckrest, which, thanks to its small size, accompanied its owner on his travels.
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The southern part of the plateau overlooking the Bandiagara cliff has been occupied since the 10th century by the Tellem and Niongom. They were then displaced by the Dogon in the 15th century, who fled from the Mande. The Tellem form the ancestors of the Kurumba of Burkina Faso.
The Dogon statuary is not easily distinguished from that of the Tellemand nor from that of the Niongom because reciprocal influences have manifested themselves over the centuries. A recurrence: the characters with arms raised above the head, in a position of invocation.
The African tribal statues of the Dogon can also be the object of worship on the part of the whole community when they commemorate, for example, the foundation of the village. These 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.
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