Dogon Altar Figure

Very little is known about these huge Dogon altar figures, due to their size they must be an important yet quite secretive meaning.
Tribe: Dogon

Origin: Mali

Approx Age: Mid 20th Century

Materials: Wood, red pigment and other libations

Dimensions cm: 139 tall x 46 wide

Ref. Number: M0561

A stunning and rare Dogon altar figure, we believe these monumental pieces would have stood proudly in a Dogon altar or shrine due to the amount of libations repeated thrown over them leaving an encrusted patina and the sheer weight of them, this would not go far as it is very heavy,  also a red pigment within the other libations on the surface. It has a very weathered iron ring around the neck of the top finial. 


While the purpose for which it was created is not entirely clear, the rich patina of this Dogon figural group suggests a ritual function involving repeated applications of offerings and libations. Composed of female figures arrayed around a central core and crowned by a double finial formed top, this work may have once adorned a shrine or altar created for communication with the ancestors of a Dogon lineage group or other supernatural powers.

Dogon sculpture emphasises angularity and rectilinear form: the Dogon artist who carved this altar group has reduced his subject matter to a set of simple, geometrical elements. Arms and legs are attenuated columns broken by sharp angles at the elbows and knees, pointed  breasts and protruding stomachs. Wedge-like heads display stylised, angular features and thin, cylindrical lip plugs that drop from under the chins. Compositionally, the work displays a sophisticated interplay of heavy massing and delicate openwork. Conjoined heads and torsos radiate from the central core, forming solid bodies to a blunt end at the bottom of the legs and missing feet.

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