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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Dogon Zoomorphic Mask
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Dogon Zoomorphic Mask - PF.6159
Origin: Mali
Circa: 19th th Century AD to 20th th Century AD
Dimensions: 11.75" (29.8cm) high
Collection: African
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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The Dogon tribe has one of the richest masking traditions in Africa, remarkable both for the diversity of forms as well as the variety of functions. This mask, representing an animal, was likely worn to mark the dama ceremony. Held every five years, the dama ceremony restored order to the universe and honored the passage of the deceased into the realm of the ancestors. Masquerading dancers, numbering up to four hundred, were considered an integral aspect of the festivities. Thus, the types of masks would surely have been equally as numerous. Among the most famous dama masks are the walu, a type that depicts a mythical antelope. Although this mask shares many features with a typical walu mask, missing are the upright horn protrusions that would identify this animal as an antelope. Instead, this mask might depict a monkey. The triangular- shaped eyes, prominently recessed brow, and long linear nose are all characteristic of Dogon mask. The small, rounded ears and long, tapering mouth suggest the simean identification. Most likely, this mask would have been related to a myth or parable involving the monkey. No doubt this myth in turn would relate to death and the passage of life, therefore making it an appropriate part of the dama ceremony. - (PF.6159)


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