Dogon Kanaga Mask

Dogon Kanaga masks represent the first human beings and are normally made by carvers of the Awa society.
Tribe: Dogon

Origin: Mali

Approx Age: 1970-80’s

Materials: Wood, plant fibre

Dimensions cm: 120 x 60

Ref. Number: KNPC Kanaga


A Dogon Kanaga mask complete with bite stick, head net and mask adornment. this mask has had plenty of dance wear and also has a repaired arm/wing? It has been stitched with a strip af animal skin. There are water marks on the mask on the facial and the arms also encrusted patina on the head of the mask.

Provenance: Ex-Serge Maurin. France


Dogon masks, such as this one called kanaga, are worn primarily at dama, a collective funerary rite for Dogon men. The ritual’s goal is to ensure the safe passage of the spirits of the deceased to the world of the ancestors. The ceremony is organised by members of Awa, a male initiation society with ritual and political roles within Dogon society. As part of the public rites related to death and remembrance, Awa society members are responsible for the creation and performance of the masks.
Like other Dogon wooden masks, kanaga masks depict the face as a rectangular box with deeply hollowed channels for the eyes. The superstructure above the face identifies this mask as a kanaga: a double-barred cross with short vertical elements projecting from the ends of the horizontal bars. This abstract form has been interpreted on two levels: literally, as a representation of a bird, and, on a more esoteric level, as a symbol of the creative force of god and the arrangement of the universe. In the latter interpretation, the upper crossbar represents the sky and the lower one, the earth.

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