Dogon Lesiga Mask M0578
- Tribe: Dogon
- Origin: Bamako Region, Mali
- Approx Age: 30-40 years old
- Materials: wood mask, plant fibre adornment
- Dimensions cm: 185 tall x 22 wide
- Ref. Number: M0578
The Dogon Lesiga mask is quite similar to the larger “Sirige” mask but danced differently, and with different meaning. This is a later 20th century piece, The large Dogon Lesiga mask is one of the 80 + masks that the Dogon use but are less seen, this particular mask is native to the Bamako region and worn at festivities and ceremonies during the festive periods. estimated 1975-85 (30-40) years old. These masks are brightly painted and has matching dyed plant fibre adornment around the lower part of the mask. Unfortunately I have no stock photos of these masks so I will show the more common Sirige masks as they are of similar ilk. I believe that this mask could have been re-adorned at a later date.
It is said that there are eighty, or even more styles of masks within the Dogon, but their basic characteristic is great boldness in the use of geometric shapes, independent of the various animals they are supposed to represent. The super structure of a large number of masks is based on the interplay of vertical and horizontal lines and shapes. Another large group has triangular, conic shapes. All masks have large geometric eyes and stylized features. The masks are often polychrome, but on many the color is lost; after the ceremonies they were left on the ground and quickly deteriorated because of termites and other conditions.
The Dogon continue an ancient masquerading tradition, which commemorates the origin of death. According to their myths, death came into the world as a result of primeval man’s transgressions against the divine order. Dama memorial ceremonies are held to accompany the dead into the ancestral realm and restore order to the universe. The performance of masqueraders – sometimes as many as 400 – at these ceremonies is considered absolutely necessary. In the case of the dama, the timing, types of masks involved, and other ritual elements are often specific to one or two villages and may not resemble those seen in locations only several miles distant.
The masks also appear during baga-bundo rites performed by small numbers of masqueraders before the burial of a male Dogon. Dogon masks evoke the form of animals associated with their mythology, yet their significance is only understood by the highest ranking cult members whose role is to explain the meaning of each mask to a captivated audience.