Africa

Modern Dogon masks from Mali

In the Dogon communities of Mali, West Africa, masked dancers perform, creating a brilliantly colored, ever-changing spectacle of sculpture, costume, song, and dance. During his research in the 1930s French anthropologist Marcel Griaule documented more than seventy different mask types, representing animals, birds, human characters, and abstract concepts, which he considered to be a visual summary of the world surrounding the Dogon people. Griaule saw the ceremonies as a stunning materialization of the close links between contemporary Dogon society and the many stages of life and death, prosperity and hardship, etc.

We collectors sometimes forget that most of these Dogon masks tend to change as time goes by. The style of a particular character in 1900 will probably look a bit different 100 years from now. The two masks in the above photo were being used in culture just a few years ago. Note the bright colors. Also, you can enlarge this hi-res photo to see the details.

Truly authentic masks from Africa no longer look rough and brown. What you find on the market today are almost always fakes. But these two masks get an A+

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