Dogon Body Dance Adornment

  • Tribe: Dogon
  • Origin: Mali
  • Approx Age: Mid - Later 20th Century
  • Materials: Woven fibers, cowrie shells
  • Dimensions cm: 72 (shoulder - bottom) x 52 (across chest)
  • Ref. Number: M0540

A full Dogon Body Dance Adornment. This is a lovely full body dance adornment from the Dogon of Mali. Made up of woven fibres straps fully covered in cowrie shells. This adornment is worn over the shoulders and around the waist almost like a waistcoat. Worn along side a raffia skirt and wrist adornments complimenting the mask, of which there are many,  this cowrie shell  body dance adornment completes this tribal dance attire.

This is for the body adornment only, the mask and arm adornments are for decoration purposes only only for.

Dogon Dance Adornment
Actual piece being worn


Dogon, ethnic group of the central plateau region of Mali that spreads across the border into Burkina Faso. There is some doubt as to the correct classification of the many dialects of the Dogon language; the language has been placed in the Mande, Gur, and other branches of the Niger-Congo language family, but its relationship to other languages of the family, if any, is uncertain. The Dogon number about 600,000, and the majority of them live in the rocky hills, mountains, and plateaus of the Bandiagara Escarpment. They are mainly an agricultural people; their few craftsmen, largely metalworkers and leatherworkers, form distinct castes. They have no centralised system of government but live in villages composed of patrilineages and extended families whose head is the senior male descendant of the common ancestor.

Information taken from :The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Image result for dogon dancers

The Dogon of Mali celebrate and perform many dances for many different reasons, weddings, funerals, the first rains, the start of millet season. Music also plays a big part in the dances and celebrations .There are dances and music to commemorate the ancestors during funerals or dama two or three years after village elders die. It’s when masks come out to guide the souls of the dead outside the village and into the world of ancestors. The Dogon still practice an ancient dance tradition, called the Dama memorial, which marks the passing of village elders. Often lasting as long as three days, these ceremonies involve dozens of dancers representing spirits from the animal kingdom and underworld. A special dance with masks takes place every two or three years after the harvest of millet, sorghum, cotton and onions. These dances also take place at the return of a successful hunt or when several people have died in a village.

Image result for dogon dancers

The musical ensemble is composed of voices and various percussion instruments: the drum-gourd, the great drum, the small drum, armpit drum and the whistle. The voice is divided into several categories: the soloist who sings the song and the chorus that repeats in unison. One by one, wooden masks painted in bright colours and decorated with cowries, form into a circle. Then one by one the individuals occupy the centre through an acrobatic dance. In turn, the hunters, antelope, rabbit, buffalo, kanaga, waders all enter the circle. It is one of the most impressive performances in the world.