French African art collection
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 treat burns. Small metal objects, made using the lost wax technique, were widespread in the Inner Niger Delta region, with copper arriving there through trans-Saharan trade. Excavations on the Bandiagara plateau have in fact uncovered remains of iron and steel sites dating from before the 15th century, the date of the arrival of the Dogon. The Nommo, a protective ancestor evoked in different forms in Dogon iconography, would be an ancestor gifted with the ability to manifest in human or animal form.
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