Dogon Stool

  • Tribe: Dogon
  • Origin: Mali
  • Approx Age: Early 20th Century
  • Materials: Wood
  • Dimensions cm: 36 tall x 38 wide
  • Ref. Number: 0442

A beautiful, unusual and old Dogon stool of an abstract form and of a two tier design and decorated with a zigzag carving around the top and bottom surround and on the angled legs with a Dogon meaning of “flowing water”, This early 20th Century Dogon stool has sustained cracks, repairs and old insect invasion over the longevity of its life but does not detract from its true beauty and unusuality of this two tier wooden stool. This came from an ex Germany African art collection.

Africa |  Dogon door, Mali

Wooden stools serve the Dogon people for everyday use. There are two distinct types. The simple, abstract ones like the one that we have here that is old and wonderfully eroded by time, use and exposure. The more complex ones are supported by figures. Dogon traditions describe the cosmos as two disks (the top of the stool and the base) forming the sky and earth connected by a tree, being stools with a central post. Those with a post in the middle are linked with Dogon mythology. The zigzag patterns suggest the path of their descent and flowing water and refer to the symbol of Lébé, the first human and priest who was transformed into a serpent after his death. The disk on top serves as an altar surface for libations.
Dogon stools vary in complexity and design. Most often you will see Dogon stools with figures around the rim acting as supports between the upper and lower platforms. These figures generally represent Dogon ancestors referred to as “Nommo” and were generally reserved for people of high status in Dogon culture, like priests. The supporting figures on stools represent the founding ancestors in their descent from sky to earth. They were used as symbols of authority.

House of Gutemele, a Dogon house In Mali // photo by Ana Isabel Escriche