Item Records

This page shows all the information we have about this item. Both the institution that physically holds this item, and RRN members have contributed the knowledge on this page. You’re looking at the item record provided by the holding institution. If you scroll further down the page, you’ll see the information from RRN members, and can share your own knowledge too.

The RRN processes the information it receives from each institution to make it more readable and easier to search. If you’re doing in-depth research on this item, be sure to take a look at the Data Source tab to see the information exactly as it was provided by the institution.

These records are easy to share because each has a unique web address. You can copy and paste the location from your browser’s address bar into an email, word document, or chat message to share this item with others.

  • Data
  • Data Source

This information was automatically generated from data provided by MOA: University of British Columbia. It has been standardized to aid in finding and grouping information within the RRN. Accuracy and meaning should be verified from the Data Source tab.


Thin figure on a base. Has an oblong head with barely visibly round eyes, a thin nose, and a mouth. Neck is long. Long arms rest at the sides of the long, thin body with the hands clasped at the front. Short legs are bent at the knees.

History Of Use

Dogon figures are used for a variety of rituals to ask for blessings for fertility and a good harvest. Instructed by jꛑɳunɛ (Dogon healer), ailed people buy a statue that illustrates their hardship or one of the deity they wish to appease. However, with the introduction of Islam to the region, the later figures were less likely to depict deities so as not to offend. They would then represent the ailed person, a mythical character, or spirit. Many statues are carved by jéme-írũ (blacksmiths) and jꛑɳunɛ, and then sold in markets. While these statues are largely crafted for Dogon uses, they are also commercialized for sale to tourists. This type of figure, a dege dal nda (sculptures of the terrace), is taken out of storage for the funerals of rich men, and are dressed and displayed on the rooftop of the deceased; they are stored in the houses of Hogon (holy men). Due to their strict display rules, these figures are determined to be different than those placed on a vageū (family's ancestral altar).

Specific Techniques

Before chopping wood from a tree, the Dogon healer (jꛑɳunɛ) will offer cowrie shells to the tree, as an offering to Nyama (the spirit that lives in all living things). After felling the tree they carve the tree with chisels and other wood-carving tools before covering the new statues in sá oil or shea butter to create a coating to protect it.

Iconographic Meaning

The carving style for these figures varies from village to village. Ogol style is characterized by couple statues linked by arms; the female has a child or spoon on her back and the male has a quiver to represent their societal roles. Dyamsay style from the northern Bandiagara Plateau region is characterized by scarification on the bodies and some brass highlighting on jewelry items. Another style, which is more widely practiced among Dogon communities, is characterized by parted legs, brass highlights and thick black designs created with a patina. Northern and Central Dogon communities carve in Tintam and N'Duleri styles, which are frequently identifiable by figures being tall and slim, with Djennenke scarification or braided hair. Southern Dogon communities carve in Toro style which is identifiable by figures being short and ‘cubist’ in nature.

Item History

With an account, you can ask other users a question about this item. Request an Account

With an account, you can submit information about this item and have it visible to all users and institutions on the RRN. Request an Account

Similar Items