African art > African mask, tribal art, primitive art > Dogon mask
Dogon hunter mask (N° 20324)
This mask with a concave face, surmounted by a circular protrusion, is a hunting mask, dana-na , which, to entertain the assistants, evolved during pantomimes simulating the hunting of game. It was surrounded by masks such as the rabbit mask whose wearer also acted. Matt patina, dry, grainy surface.
The dance symbolizes the cunning of the animal against the hunter. The hare is also very present in Dogon tales and myths.
The masks were regularly repainted on the occasion of new celebrations, in this case with natural ochre pigments and a black pastillage on a cream background.
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The Dogon people are renowned in African art for the myths and beliefs relating to their cosmogony.
Their population is estimated at about 300,000 souls living southwest of the Niger loop in the Mopti region of Mali (Bandiagara, Koro, Banka), near Douentza and part of northern Burkina (northwest of Ouahigouya). They produce more than 80 types of masks, the best known of which are the Kanaga , Sirigé , Satimbé , Walu . Most of them are used by the circumcised initiates of the Awa society, during funeral ceremonies. Some represent animals, in reference to the rich mythology of African Dogon art. The "nyama", the vital force of the mask, is activated by various rituals in order to develop the full magical potential of the object.
On the occasion of a Dama, a ritual marking the end of a mourning period, the Dogon sculpt new masks.
Litt. : "Dogon" Huib Blom; "Dogon" H. Leloup, ed. Somogy.
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