Dogon Stool

On this Dogon stool there are four carved figures supporting the seat of this simple item of everyday importance.

Tribe: Dogon

Origin: Mali

Approx Age: Later 20th Century

Materials: Wood

Dimensions cm: 23 (tall) x 26 (across the seat)

Ref. Number: 0959

Carved from only one piece of wood this Dogon stool is an item that would be used everyday. Having four legs that take on the form of carved figures supporting the seat. The seat being of disc shape with scooped out appearance. An age crack is visible on the seat and some age deteriation to the base. The base is circular with an open circle in the centre. An enchanting piece of everyday Dogon art.


The Dogon are an ethnic group living in the central plateau region of Mali, West Africa south of the Niger bend, near the city of Bandiagara, in the region of Mopti. The population numbers between 400,000 and 800,000. They speak the Dogon languages, which are considered to constitute an independent branch of the Niger – Congo language family. The Dogon are best known for their religious traditions, their mask dances, wooden sculpture and their architecture. The past century has seen significant changes in the social organisation, material culture and beliefs of the Dogon, partly because Dogon country is one of Mali’s major tourist attractions

Wooden stools serve the Dogon people for everyday use. There are two distinct types. The simple, abstract ones like the one that we have here that is old and wonderfully eroded by time, use and exposure. The more complex ones are supported by figures. Dogon traditions describe the cosmos as two disks (the top of the stool and the base) forming the sky and earth connected by a tree, being stools with a central post. Those with a post in the middle are linked with Dogon mythology. The zig-zag patterns suggest the path of their descent and flowing water and refer to the symbol of Lébé, the first human and priest who was transformed into a serpent after his death. The disk on top serves as an altar surface for libations.Dogon stools vary in complexity and design. Most often you will see Dogon stools with figures around the rim acting as supports between the upper and lower platforms. These figures generally represent Dogon ancestors referred to as “Nommo” and were generally reserved for people of high status in Dogon culture, like priests. The supporting figures on stools represent the founding ancestors in their descent from sky to earth. They were used as symbols of authority.

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