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Iron Standing Figure

Dogon, Mali. £750

Iron Standing Figure. Dogon Culture, Mali

The Giacometti-esque form of this figure, with its elongated body and neck, epitomises Dogon iron sculpture. Two short ribbonlike legs, slightly bent at the knees, culminate in a pair of flattened feet, and the figure’s long, curved arms conclude in flat, outwardly-turned palms. The face of this open-mouthed iron figure, which includes a pair of lozenge-shaped eyes placed low on the sides of the face, shares features found in Dogon wood sculpture - also produced by Dogon blacksmiths.

While the contexts in which standing iron figures such as this would have been used are not well known, several kinds of iron objects are employed by the hogon, the supreme religious and political leader in each Dogon community. This includes canes, as well as figurative iron staffs - found in binu sanctuaries and embedded in 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.

Over time, the surface of the figure has developed a corroded, encrusted patina.

Ex Private Collection, UK

Estimated Period: Early 20th Century (Or Before)

H (Excl. Stand): 44.5


Kate Ezra, Art of the Dogon: Selections from the Lester Wunderman Collection’, p. 76 & p. 79 

(Click on images to enlarge)

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H (Incl. Stand): 48.5 CM
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