Dogon Ancestral Protection Door

  • Tribe: Dogon
  • Origin: Mali
  • Approx Age: 2nd half 20th Century
  • Materials: Wood
  • Dimensions cm: 106 x 67 (peg - peg 119)
  • Ref. Number: M0583

A really nice Dogon door consisting 4 rows of ancestral figures, this style door where there are only “human” figures were carved to protect items , figures etc that were kept in huts rather than grain in granary’s. This particular Dogon door looks to have never had a door lock fitted, its not that unusual but thought I would mention it than someone assume it had been taken off.

Dogon Granary Door
This is a door that is very similar in style I found at Sotherby’s

Very weathered patina and worn pegs that would hinge the door in place within a very basic wooden framed opening. The Dogon door in question comprises of two panels fixed together with a good continuation of defined carved ancestral figures.

Dogon Granary Door
Photo found on Google images

Dogon doors are used simply to close an opening to their homes, safe stores of tribal pieces etc and adobe granaries in which the Dogon store their grain. The figures on granary doors protect the grain inside from mould, insects and all other threats. Carvings on other doors have all sorts of meanings and sometimes even stories.
The Dogon people of Mali are known the world over for their creation of Dogon Doors. The doors have various uses in their society; first as the physical closure to their granaries. Secondly they are created and exchanged as gifts for birthdays, marriages, tokens of luck and rites of passage bequests. Thirdly, when used as a part of the architecture, as a door or shutter, in a private abode, through the use of symbols they are used to describe the occupation of the person or that persons persona or status in the village. Lastly it served as a sign to taxpayers, letting them know which form of payment was accepted in the adjoining building.

The Dogon are best known for their religious traditions, their mask dances, wooden sculpture and their architecture. The past century has seen significant changes in the social organisation, material culture and beliefs.

Dogon Granary Door
Photo found on Google images

Dogon mythology says that Nommo was the first living creature created by the sky god Amma. Shortly after his creation, Nommo underwent a transformation and multiplied into four pairs of twins. One of the twins rebelled against the universal order created by Amma. To restore order to his creation, Amma sacrificed another of the Nommo progeny, whose body was dismembered and scattered throughout the universe.This dispersal of body parts is seen by the Dogon as the source for the proliferation of Binu shrines throughout the Dogons’ traditional territory; wherever a body part fell, a shrine was erected.

Image result for dogon granary door

Archaeological evidence suggests men have lived on the cliffs for over 2,000 years. Cultures whose relics have been dated are the pygmy Toloy people in the 3rd to 2nd centuries BC, and later, between the 11th and 15th centuries, the Tellem who lived in caves cut into the cliffs where they left many artifacts still unearthed by local people. They were pushed out around 1490 by the Dogons from the south-west (or south-east) perhaps fleeing slave raids by Songhai, Fulani and Mossi tribesmen. They came in four clans, the Dyon, Ono, Arou and Domno and spread over the plateau, the escarpment and the plains of the Séno-Gondo, living on top of or at the foot of the cliffs. They divided into small village communities, each member having a village surname shared by every inhabitant. Dogon buildings are a unique architecture of sculptural mud-built huts, altars, distinctive tapering granaries for each sex, each with a pointed cap of thatch, and meeting houses (Diakite, 1988; Hollyman & van Beek, 2001).