Dogon ‘Pole’ Figure

This figure was carved so it didn’t have to be in contact with the human hand.

Tribe: Dogon

Origin: Aramongongo, Sangha sub-district, Mali

Approx Age: Early – mid 20th Century

Materials: Wood

Dimensions cm: 41 tall

Ref. Number: 1410


A rare Dogon pole figure, this unusual figure is placed on a pole/stick and then put on the shoulders of 2 men for a walk in the village, this ceremony is held every three years. This figure was not allowed to have contact directly by the human hand.  Completely covered in libations/offerings which have distorted facial features and a hole at the base where a pole/stick would be inserted to carry this out of the Hogon’s safe place for its offerings too.

Provenance: Collected in situ from Aramongongo Sangha sub-district in 1970.  Ex Lampevelden collection, Netherlands.


Over time, the Dogon moved north along the escarpment, arriving in the Sangha / Sanga region in the 15th century. Other oral histories place the origin of the Dogon to the west beyond the river Niger, or tell of the Dogon coming from the east. It is likely that the Dogon of today combines several groups of diverse origin who migrated to escape Islamisation.

Dogon art is primarily sculpture. Dogon art revolves around religious values, ideals, and freedoms (Laude, 19). Dogon sculptures are not made to be seen publicly, and are commonly hidden from the public eye within the houses of families, sanctuaries, or kept with the Hogon (Laude, 20). The importance of secrecy is due to the symbolic meaning behind the pieces and the process by which they are made.

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