The Dogon believe the ladders facilitate a spirit’s ability to reach his ancestor. In Dogon sacrificial practice, poured libations created a layered patina over the carved wood.
Approx Age: 20th century, 1970 or before
Dimensions cm: 47.5 tall without base
Ref. Number: 1668
Dogon figure surmounted on top of a six-step ladder, possibly an ancestor or an altar figure. A nice and dark encrusted patina from libation offerings and mounted on a base with a felt bottom. Ladders within the Dogon were a representation of a way up to the next world after leaving this one and called them spirit ladders.
Provenance: Ex-private UK collection
Binu shrines or sanctuaries are separate structures built in the courtyard of the Ginna. Each one contains an altar on which the wooden figures are found, leaning against the wall of the shrine. Small bowls, miniature ladders, iron hooks and bracelets, and L-shaped wooden Domolo staffs are also placed in Binu shrines. Shrine miniature ladders, these works replicate the form of the full-size versions, yet their purpose is spiritual rather than utilitarian. Along with pottery and figurines, miniature ladders were placed in a bowl on altars, where Dogon thought to have inherited the souls of specific ancestors would pour sacrificial offerings.
The Dogon believe the ladders facilitate a spirit’s ability to reach his ancestor. In Dogon sacrificial practice, poured libations created a layered patina over the carved wood. The variety of patinas on these ladders, most likely consisting of mixtures of animal blood, minerals from the surrounding landscape, and millet gruel.
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