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This highly stylized African figurine comes from Dogon art. This renowned people whose art has survived the ages and is world famous migrated several centuries ago to settle down along the cliffs of Bandiagara. This geological relief had a strong influence on their architecture. The latter is also an integral part of the university architecture course in Belgium. Their unique and complex architecture responds to a cosmogony and beliefs that are just as unique and complex.
In addition to statues and masks, many objects have been, over the centuries, the artistic supports of their culture. Thus, Dogon doors, ladders, hairpins are an integral part of the Dogon artistic corpus.
This slender statuette is part of cubism. The angular lines are mastered and follow guidelines horizontally but above all in verticality, in direct connection with the sky and the spirit world. If the figurine shows significant erosion due to age and the conditions of conservation on site, we can still detect a beautiful dark patina of use on the head and torso, linked to sacrificial libations. The small growth present at the bottom of the head corresponds to the beard, symbol of wisdom. It is therefore very probably a figurine representing a hogon, sage of the village designated by the community.
The role of hogon was assumed by one of the elders of the village appointed by his peers. He could not oppose this mission which he would keep until the end of his life. Several constraints were linked to this position, including a forced exile outside the village. The hogon then had a personal hut in which he had to live alone, serving as official accommodation, generally in the cliffs. He was also prohibited from physical contact with other individuals. In return for these social sacrifices, the community made sure that all the hogon's needs were met.
The figurine from the American private collection here has been exhibited several times in salons dedicated to primitive art.
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