Land of the Dogon PDF Print E-mail
  1. Kanaga and the Door

" Kanaga and the Door "

Dogon Dancers

" Dogon masked dancers, Bandiagara escarpment- Mali."

  1. The one place in Africa that I wanted to visit more that any other place was always Mali. Over the years traditional African art form has become a passion of mine. The Dogon people of Mali have always
  2. been known for their masks, sculptures and doors.


To visit the land of the Dogon and see the art that has always been a personal favorite in it's natural environment

 being displayed with function also allowed me to appreciate Dogon art with greater depth.

 The Dogon are one of the oldest civilizations surviving today. The Dogon traditional homeland is located

south of the bend in the Niger River were they found the huge sandstone cliffs a place to settle.

This location allowed for a strong defensive position in times of war and provided refuge from the

 pressures of Islam. The huge cliffs stretch over 150km and rise as high as 500m in areas.

Dogon Homes

" Traditional Dogon village, Bandiagara escarpment- Mali."


The Dogon have lived along the Bandiagara escarpment as far back as a 700 years ago, it was the

Tellem people who first constructed the dwellings that are scattered high above the ground along the

 cliffs. One hypothesis that was explained to me from a local village elder was the Tellem people

were driven away from the region by the Dogons as well as the Tellem people assimilated with

 the Dgons and were absorbed into Dogon culture. The Tellem people were described to me as

being smaller "red" people with great magical powers. It was their magic that allowed them to

fly up the cliffs to build their homes. later the Dogon used the ancient structures for the final

resting place of their own ancestors. 


Tellem landmark

" Tellem housing constructed high up the cliffs  of the Bandiagara escarpment- Mali."


The Dogon established their villages at the base of the cliffs often underneath the Tellem

 structures. The landscape not only provided a good defence against other but also provided

 a source of water perfect for growing millet and the world's best onions. The Dogon are an

agricultural people who rotate their crops throughout the year. The ones who hunted were a

 separated from the normal Dogon society, believed to have a special connection with nature. 

Hunters home

"  Outside looking at a hunter's home. Dogon country, Malii"


Dogon Door

" Traditional Dogon door, Mali"


The door to every family's home is carved with the etchings relating the history of the family history.

 The doors are often sold to supplement the family income as they are sought after by the African art



Kanaga mask

" Dancers adorned with the Kanaga mask, the most famous of the Dogon mask. Mali"


The Dama dance is traditionally reserved for Dogon funerals which are only performed every six

 years or longer, however the dance is now part of the tourist industry in Dogon country. I was

very privileged to be the only witness along with my guide for this dance. I travelled with only

my guide and driver to Dogon country and was treated to the full meal deal in regards to Dogon


Dogon rock wall

" Dogon rock wall" the painting was inspired by the images found at the traditional Dogon

 circumcision site. To get there I traveled through Dogon country.


This picture is an example of the images that have been expressed  by unknown members of

 the Dogon people. The side of the rocky escarpment is covered by ancient paintings as well as

 recent paintings.



There will be more stories of my time with the Dogon as I complete more paintings

of my adventures there. Stay tuned!


All rights reserved,Aru Studios