Dogon Tribe Room, African Museum Olkusz

The Dogon people inhabiting Mali are communities who believe that they are the first people on Earth. They believe that their ancestors came from space in a round ark with their ancestor called Nommo; his figurine can be seen between the pedestals.

A painting inspired by their cave paintings hangs on the wall to the right of the entrance. The Dogons have worked out their own language and a pictorial script of almost 16,000 characters. Above, one of the snake masks commemorates the reincarnation of the dead into snakes.  

Most well-known works of the Dogon art include ancestor figurines and nearly 80 types of masks. They are alluded to in the contemporary painting with dancing masks. 

Next to it, there is a collection of zoomorphic facial masks inspired by the animal world. Some of them are topped with an image of the kalao bird.

The display cabinet opposite the door contains the most famous Dogon mask called ‘Kanaga’. According to some, its shape is reminiscent of the mythical crocodile that helped the Dogon to cross the River Niger during their escape; others believe that it looks like the outspread wings of the kalao bird that carries souls of the dead to the afterlife. Other myths maintain that these are the hands of God. A masked dancer bows and raises his head during a funeral to unite the earthly and higher worlds.

In the corner next to the door, there is a complete mask that, in addition to the headdress, consists of the outfit covering the dancer’s body.

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