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Dogon Figurative Iron Staff, Mali


Figurative Iron Staff. Dogon Culture, Mali

The seated figure that surmounts this iron staff exhibits the characteristically long, undulating limbs of Dogon iron sculpture. The figure’s elongated torso features a pronounced naval, and its arms culminate in flattened hands, with spread fingers. The arrow-shaped nose and lozenge-shaped eyes of the figure are facial features seen in many Dogon wood sculpture - made by the same artists, blacksmiths. Over time, the surface of this figurative staff has developed a corroded, encrusted patina.

While there is little documentation surrounding the contexts in which these staffs were used, several kinds of iron objects are employed by the 'hogon', the supreme religious and political leader in each Dogon community. This includes, for instance, figurative iron staffs, which were embedded in the bricks in front of the hogon’s house. Many of these iron objects are intended to attract and secure spiritual forces, as well as rain and good harvests, and therefore would be particularly useful to the hogon, charged with maintaining human order through the resolution of legal disputes and overseeing the rites of agriculture and renewal.

Estimated Period: Early 20th Century (Or Before)

Ex Private Collection, UK

H (Excl. Stand): 57.5cm


Kate Ezra, Art of the Dogon: Selections from the Lester Wunderman Collection’, p. 79 

(Click on images to enlarge)

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H (Incl. Stand): 61.5 CM
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