Dogon Figural Stool

Interesting Dogon figural stool with three sets of three figures and a set of two figures.

Tribe: Dogon

Origin: Mali

Approx Age: Mid 20th Century

Materials: Wood

Dimensions cm: 37 (tall) x 37 (widest point)

Ref. Number: 1225


An interesting Dogon figural stool due to the fact that it has been made in the traditional form of the two discs, representive of the sky and earth with carved figures uniting the two but the combination of figures differs. Three of the supports have a group of three figures leaving the remaining support carved with only two. Detailed carving throughout inclusive of the zig-zag design that runs around the rim and base. Zig-zag design being representative of ‘the flow of water’. Lovely patina showing good signs of usage.

Provenance: Ex Lampevelden Collection – Netherlands.


Collected by Lampevelden in the early 1970’s whilst working out in Dogon villages installing irrigation systems for the village people.

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 the sky to earth. They were used as symbols of authority.

Dogon art is extremely versatile, although common stylistic characteristics – such as a tendency towards stylization – are apparent on the statues. Their art deals with the myths whose complex ensemble regulates the life of the individual. The sculptures are preserved in innumerable sites of worship, personal or family altars, altars for rain, altars to protect hunters. As a general characterization of Dogon statues, one could say that they render the human body in a simplified way, reducing it to its essentials. Some are extremely elongated with emphasis on geometric forms. The subjective impression is one of immobility with a mysterious sense of a solemn gravity and serene majesty, although conveying at the same time a latent movement.

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