Dogon Figure, Mali
height 18 1/4in (46.4cm)
Wood, palm oil
Possibly John J. Klejman, New York
Private Collection, New York, acquired in the 1960s
"The 250,000 Dogon people live on a large plateau, with most of the villages situated on cliffs to the north and the east. According to Dogon oral tradition, the tribe settled in this area between the 14th and the 15th centuries, after escaping from the Mande kingdom. Dogon social and religious organizations are closely interlinked and out of these arouse four principal cults which accounts for the richness and diversity of Dogon culture. Dogon figures are predominantly associated with the ancestor cult. They are carved either for personal or family use or, if they commemorate the foundation of a community, are worshiped by the village." (Bacquart, 1998: p 60)
The present work, with its heavily-encrusted surface saturated with palm oil, shows evidence of significant worship. The artist has captured an intriguing use of balance and geometry in form with this figure giving it an aura of abstraction.