Traditionally Dogon masks are controlled by the Awa society, a group of predominantly male initiates The society’s age-grouped membership functions outside the standard Dogon organizing factors of lineage and village. It conducts the public rites that insure the transition of the dead into the spirit world. A large number of masks are included both for the funerary rites and for the dama, the celebration at the end of mourning. The Awa leaders also direct the sigui, a celebration held only every 60 years to mark the change in generations. While more than 70 different Dogon masks have been identified, they can be grouped into five categories according to medium: whether fiber or wood, subject: whether animal, human or abstract and character: whether predatory or non-predatory. Based on the French ethnographer Marcel Griaule’s 1938 publication of photographs of a mask from Ireli, this wood mask is a predatory human, specifically a hunter.
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H32 x B14 cm