TITLE: Dogon Circumcision Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Mali
ETHNICITY: Dogon
DESCRIPTION: Circumcision Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Circumcision
FUNCTION: Adult Initiation
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: N/A

The Dogon people of Mali use a tremendous variety of masks, most of which center around funeral rites. Traditionally, the Awa Society controlled the use of masks. This mask would have been used in the adult initiation ritual for boys between the ages of 9 and 12, at their circumcision. During the ritual, members of the Awa Society wear masks such as this one, representing important ancestors.

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TITLE: Dogon Kanaga
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Mali
ETHNICITY: Dogon
DESCRIPTION: Kanage Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Dama
FUNCTION: Funeral
AGE: Mid to late 20th century
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment; string

The Dogon people of Mali use a tremendous variety of masks, most of which center around funeral rites, known as Dama. Traditionally, the Awa Society controlled the use of masks, such as this kanaga.  The kanaga is used in funerals to usher the spirit of the dead from the village back to its proper place in the bush.  Along with the mask, the dancer wears a hood of plaited fiber to cover the back of the head, and a costume of black and red woven cloth embroidered and decorated with cowrie shells and beads.  The kanaga dancer also wears a pair of woven pants and a long skirt of black, red, and yellow plant fibers.

The mask represents a god, the crossbars representing arms and legs, as well as the arrangement of the world, with the upper bar representing the sky and the lower bar representing the earth.  As in other African masking traditions, the white color of the superstructure indicates the spirit world.

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TITLE: Dogon Dyommo
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Mali
ETHNICITY: Dogon
DESCRIPTION: Dyommo (hare) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Awa Society; Dama
FUNCTION: Entertainment; Funereal
AGE: 1980s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: kaolin clay

The Dogon people of Mali use a tremendous variety of masks, most of which center around funeral rites to usher the spirit of the dead from the village back to its proper place in the bush. Traditionally, the Awa Society controlled the use of masks. Some masks have an entertainment and story-telling function as well, such as this dyommo (hare) mask along with the dannana (hunter) masquerader. The dannana pretends to hunt several dyommo masqueraders, who hide among the spectators and escape. There are two species of hare that inhabit Dogon territory in Mali, both nocturnal: the African savanna hare (Lepus microtis) and the Cape hare (Lepus capensis). Such hares are so fast that the only animal capable of chasing them down is the cheetah.

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TITLE: Dogon Satimbe Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Africa
COUNTRY: Mali
ETHNICITY: Dogon
DESCRIPTION: Satimbe Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Dama
FUNCTION: Funeral
AGE: 1940s
MAIN MATERIAL: ebony wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; glass beads; cowrie shells; hair; cotton string; 1919 British West Africa penny; bronze bell

The Dogon people of Mali use a tremendous variety of masks, most of which center around funeral rites. Traditionally, the Awa Society controlled the use of masks. This mask represents Yayemme, the first woman to discover the mystical use of masks, and Yasigi, a female character from Dogon creation myths who served beer at the first Dogon sigi celebration.  It is used in funerals to usher the spirit of the dead from the village back to its proper place in the bush.

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