Dogon Odyogoro ‘Goiter’ Mask

Dogon Odyogoro goiter mask collected in 1970 by a Dutch collector.

Tribe: Dogon

Origin: Sangha village, Mali

Approx Age: 1950-60

Materials: wood

Dimensions cm: 50 tall x 17 wide

Ref. Number: 1436



An old Dogon Odyogoro Goiter mask from an ex-Dutch collection, this was collected in 1970 from a village in Sangha. The Goitre mask Odyogoro is a mask wearing a carved headpiece with a huge protuberance under its chin. This mask has a crest across the top of the head and in line with its ears deep ocular cavities separated by the nose. Under the face appears the goitre which is shaped like big balls.

 Provenance: Collected in situ 1970. Ex Lampevelden collection, Netherlands


Some masks are associated with a story pertaining to the character portrayed. For example, the fox represents disorder and disobedience within the world and is considered the enemy of water, fertility, and civilisation. A mythical fox named Yurugu is said to have been condemned by Amma to search the world for a lost twin (Griaule 2005). Dancers wearing rabbit masks may hide from the “hunter,” while the Walu antelope chases girls and small boys in the audience (Van Beek 1998). In addition to animals and spirits, masks also represent outsiders, often depicting them as aliens who exhibit strange or humorous behaviour. Wearing a mask covered by cowry shells, the Fulani woman hops around trying to collect animal dung, while the Mossi herdsman repeatedly falls off his horse (Van Beek 1991a). Also drawing laughter from the crowd, the Odyogoro mask has two under-chin bulges representing goitres, a common Dogon ailment caused by a lack of iodine in the diet, during the dance the dancer hacks awkwardly in the air with an adze.

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