Dogon miniature in bronze, of great finesse, representing mythical characters in a pirogue. The whole evokes the complex beliefs of the Dogon. The animal motif, a saurine in this case, also refers to the animals of creation. Grey-green patina.
Dogon blacksmiths form an endogamous caste among the Dogon called irim. Today they produce weapons, tools,and also work with wood. "Masters of fire" associated in Dogon cosmogony with the primordial beings "Nommo" created by the god Ama, they are also supposed to cure burns. Small metal objects, made using the lost wax technique, were widespread in the region of the interior delta of the Niger, copper reaching it thanks to the trans-Saharan trade. Excavations on the Bandiagara plateau have uncovered the remains of iron and steel sites dating back to the 15th century, the date of the Dogon's arrival. The Nommo, a protective ancestor evoked in different forms in Dogon iconography, is said to be an ancestor gifted with the ability to manifest himself in human or animal form.
The Dogon population is estimated at about 300,000 souls living in the southwest of the Niger loop in the Mopti region of Mali (Bandiagara, Koro, Banka), near Douentza and part of northern Burkina Faso (northwest of Ouahigouya). The villages are often perched on the top of scree on the side of hills, according to a unique architecture. The history of the migrations and settlements of the Dogon (about ten main groups, about fifteen different languages), involves several hypotheses.
The Dakar-Djibouti mission of 1931, led by Marcel Griaule, was charged with an in-depth study of the rites of this population settled in the region of the Bandiagara Cliffs. The Dogon would be composed of several peoples who had found refuge there following repeated droughts or invasions.
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