Consisting of a central circular stone pendant and linked iron chain with metal attachments, sacred iron and stone necklaces such as this were worn by the Hogon, a supreme religious reader among the Dogon, who was often the blacksmith. Such necklaces would also have been worn by the Hogon’s guardians (benekesena) - chief priests and spiritual figureheads who provided assistance to the Hogon, both practically and with the preparation of fetishes on ritual occasions. In Dogon mythology, the stones (douge) symbolise the bones of the Lebe, the first Hogon - while iron, representative of the the earth where the ancestors are buried, provides a physical liaison to the spiritual ancestors.
Ex Private Collection, UK (Seward Kennedy Collection)
Estimated Period: First Half of 20th Century
'Necklace', Brooklyn Museum
Angela Fisher, 'Africa Adorned' (1984) p. 114
(Click on images to enlarge)