Dogon Iron Ginna Altar Figure

Beautifully styled Dogon iron Ginna altar figure from the ex-collection of Lampevelden, Netherlands.

Tribe: Dogon

Origin: Mali

Approx Age: Early 20th Century possibly earlier

Materials: Iron

Dimensions cm: 14 tall

Ref. Number: 1336


A Dogon Iron Ginna alter figure with great stature and strong facial features, even and pronounced coiffure. Arms are slender and sit down the sides of the body, hands on the knees with bent legs. A wonderful example of Dogon blacksmith workmanship. Very eroded altar figure collected by Lampevelden in the 1970’s.

Provenance: Ex Lampevelden collection.



Iron figures exhibit the techincal skill and artistry that the Dogon blacksmith brought to their work. They would do the smelting to get the iron from iron ore, then heat and hammer out both the tools and weapons used and the important ritual objects/figures. Nowadays, the Dogon blacksmiths forge mainly scrap metal recuperated from old railway lines or car wrecks. So, little by little, the long process of iron ore reduction, which demands a perfect knowledge of fire and its temperatures, has been abandoned.

Each of these figures presents the skill of the blacksmith as can be seen from the careful shaping of the individual shaping of limbs and facial features. The small figures are normally placed upright near the alter of the ginna, the big family house (Gina Na or Gina Da) of the village.

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