- Label Text
- Traditionally Dogon masks are controlled by the Awa society, a group of predominantly male initiates who conduct the public rites that insure the transition of the dead into the spirit world. A large number of masks participate in Dogon funerary rites and the dama, a celebration at the end of mourning. The masks also appear in the sigui, a celebration held only every 60 years to mark the change in generations.
- There are more than 70 different Dogon masks, which can be grouped according to medium, whether fiber or wood; subject, whether animal, human or abstract; and character, whether predatory or nonpredatory. This wood mask is in the nonpredatory box form. The large beak with triangle pattern and female figure identify the mask as the foraging bird. Despite the female figure, the character is perceived as male and referred to as cock, male bird or cultivator. The dancer pecks at the ground like a bird--stirring up dust--and also mimes hoeing with a millet stalk. The mask therefore suggests a strong young man, one who farms and in the dry season participates in funerary rites.
- Wood face mask with rectangular face, cut out square eyes, projecting bird beak from forehead and female figure superstructure. Mask has red and white pigment stripes on face, and the figure is dark. A double belt of cowrie shells adorns the waist of the figure.
- Harry and Freda Schaeffer, Larchmont, New York, -- to 1971
- Exhibition History
- Thinking with Animals, African Images and Perceptions, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., March 24-September 7, 1982
- Life...Afterlife: African Funerary Sculpture, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 19, 1981-March 1, 1982, no. 37
- Data Source
- National Museum of African Art
- Dogon artist
- Mid-20th century
- Credit Line
- Gift of Harry and Freda Schaeffer
- Wood, pigment, cowrie shells, plant fiber, metal
- H x W x D: 85.1 x 15.2 x 51.4 cm (33 1/2 x 6 x 20 1/4 in.)