African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Dogon Mask
Dogon Mask (N° 19223)
This African Dogon mask, with minimalist geometric features, is one of the many stylistic variations of dogon masks, icons of tribal dogon art. A long nose dividing the upper three-quarters of the face, extending to the top in a curved growth, hollowed-out eyes in squares, an absence of mouth, a flat machore. Carved from dense wood, the mask bears the crusty imprint of ritual libations.
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The Dogon are a people renowned for their cosmogony, their esotericism, their myths and legends. Their population is estimated at about 300,000 souls living southwest of the Niger Loop in mali's Mopti region (Bandiagara, Koro, Banka), near Douentza and part of northern Burkina (northwest of Ouahigouya). Villages are often perched atop scree at the hillside, according to a unique architecture. The history of migration and the dogon facilities (about ten main groups, fifteen different languages) relates to several hypotheses. Some historians believe that the Dogons fled an area west of their present location as a result of an assault. More than eighty types of African masks are listed among the Dogon, the best known of which are the Kanaga, Sirigé, Satimbé, Walu. Most of them are used by circumcised initiates of the Awa society, during funeral ceremonies. The Awa refers to the masks, their costumes, and all the Dogons in the service of masks. Some evoke animals, in reference to the rich cosmogony and mythology of African dogon art. The "nyama", the life force of the mask, is activated by different rituals in order to develop the full magical potential of the object.
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