L. Figure of an Elder C. Dogon Man R. Toguna (House of Words)
16th-20th c African (West) Dogon Sculpture
(active 13th c - present)
Mali. Western Sudan.
New York. Metropolitan Museum of Art.
While the women grow and pound the grain, Dogon men, who had traditionally been hunters, attend to the "important" matters of the village, discussing them for many hours in a place known as the Toguna, or House of Words. You can see a traditional Toguna at the bottom, its importance marked by the many layers of grain stalks laid at right angles to form a very tall roof. The ceiling of the building, however, is very low, a feature that tends to keep the political discussions somewhat subdued since the men must remain seated. If you jump up, you bang your head.
Decisions are made communally by the Council of the Elders. We see a statue of one of the elders on the top left, with a photograph of one of the Dogon elders on the right. It is interesting that the seeming stylization of the sculpture is very close in fact to the features of the elder, including the high bald head, the long thin face and the small protruding beard.
DOGON | L. Figure of an Elder C. Dogon Man R. Toguna (House of Words) | c. 1500-1999 | African | Dogon