Taller than most Dogon figures, this one, though damaged, has a sculptural quality indicating a masterful carver at work. The powerful columnar volumes of the arms, torso, and legs contrast with the flatness of the hands and beard and the delicacy of the chip-carved patterns on the torso and face, probably representing scarification, which are echoed in the serrated sides of the beard. The Dogon live in a dry climate that has allowed the preservation of wooden objects for periods unheard of in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa, so it is not unusual for figures to be more than a century old. The tentative sixteenth-century date for this figure is based on a carbon-14 test that was performed during the 1960s, which yielded a date of 1520 +/- 100.
Dogon peoples, Mali
16th century (?)
H. 44 in. (111.8 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Raymond and Laura Wielgus Collection, 87.12