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Sculptures from Mumuye and Dogon

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

Mali Dogon Headrest

Bronze, 9.9x11.5x6.3, C15-16

In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Dogon are said to have settled in the most inaccessible areas, building communities in cliff overhangs and caves to protect themselves from Fulani and Mossi cavalry raids. Due to the arid terrain of steep cliffs and rock walls, and lack of land for growing millet, the staple crop, villages must be small, and as a result, the Dogon have large cities and centralized governments. could not be created. Each village had a council of elders that made important decisions and was organized in a caste system according to their primary occupation.

Mumuye Figure Sculpture

Wood, 48.5x12.2x14.0, C20

British sculptor Henry Moore was struck by the shape of West African female figures that wrap their arms, and later commented how '… the carver has managed to make [the figure] “spatial” by the way he has made the arms free and yet enveloping the central form of the body', (quoted from R. Fardon, 2011). This is also the case with the male figure in the photograph, which makes full use of the width of the tree and is supported by enveloping arms, a slender body, and strong legs, with a face and belly of roughly the same size. Such a "mumuye" style has become emblematic of African sculpture.


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