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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Masterpieces of African Art : Dogon Wooden Polychrome Walu Mask
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Dogon Wooden Polychrome Walu Mask - PF.4638
Origin: Southeastern Mali/Burkina Faso
Circa: 20th th Century AD
Dimensions: 28" (71.1cm) high x 7" (17.8cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood and Paint

Location: United States
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The Dogon inhabit the barren cliffs of the Bandiagara Escarpment, near the bend of the Niger river. Their life is one of physical austerity and spiritual richness. They express deep religious beliefs through art; and it is through their art we can best understand this fascinating people.

Periodically the men's association (Awa), who are responsible for initiations, organizes a great masked ceremony of the Dama, or closing of the mourning period. This event may last for several days commemorating those deceased during the past two or three years. Most Dogon masks are used primarily for funerals and one of the most appealing is the Walu fashioned in the shape of an antelope. This intriguing and lovely mask is rectangular in shape, with an elongated face having two large horns and two smaller ones. Though it is highly abstract, the overall impression is definitely that of an antelope. Even the lovely checkerboard designs alternating orange and white are reminiscent of this gentle animal. Small ropes at the back enable it to be secured to the face. Dancers wearing masks such as this one must have been a stirring sight as they celebrated through the medium of dance the mysteries of life and the afterlife.
- (PF.4638)


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