Dogon Walu Antelope Mask
Approx Age: 1922 – 1938 Aged by museum
Dimensions cm: 50 tall x 18 wide
Ref. Number: 0065
A stunning styled old Dogon Walu antelope mask from my own collection. This previously was in an old gentleman’s collection in France to which he owned it for over 50 years. We sent this piece to the “Scientific Laboratory of the Museo d’Arte e Scienza” in 2014 for analysis of age done by method of spectroscopy by Dr Martin Matthaes himself. The age given (specified on certificate) is between 1922-1938. This piece is very aged to look at and worn beautifully, especially where the original netting ( that Dogon masks have to hold to the head ) has worn the wood. The certificate and the custom made stainless steel stand are also part of the sale.
The Dogon Walu antelope mask is among the most popular Dogon masks, these are admired by the Dogon for their beauty and the strength of their performance. The face of the mask is usually a rectangular box, like that of the sim mask, but in this example the artist has completely opened up the face, eliminating the two channels for the eyes. The result, though lighter and more delicate than many examples, retains the architectonic quality that characterises Dogon masks. The costume worn with the antelope mask consists of fibre hood, skirts, armbands, and fibre bandoleers crossed over the chest. The dancer holds two short sticks with which he scratches the ground, imitating the behaviour of antelope during their mating displays, but also resembling men hoeing the fields to make them fruitful.
Reference: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
For the dama, or final commemorative ceremony for an important Dogon elder, hundreds of masked dancers perform, creating a brilliantly coloured, ever-changing spectacle of sculpture, costume, song, and dance. During his research in the 1930s French anthropologist Marcel Griaule documented more than seventy different mask types, representing animals, birds, human characters, and abstract concepts, which he considered to be a visual summary of the world surrounding the Dogon people. Griaule saw the dama ceremony as a stunning materialisation of the close links between contemporary Dogon society and the mythical time when masks were first acquired and used to counteract the negative effects of death. By reenacting the behaviour of their mythic ancestors, the Dogon strive to restore order to their world after the disruption caused by death.
Dogon art is extremely versatile, although common stylistic characteristics – such as a tendency towards stylisation – are apparent on the statues. Their art deals with the myths whose complex ensemble regulates the life of the individual. The sculptures are preserved in innumerable sites of worship, personal or family altars, altars for rain, altars to protect hunters.
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