Dogon Carved Zoomorphic Trough
Also known as ‘Aduro Kuro’.
The Dogon people of Mali are among the oldest surviving African
cultures despite the fact that throughout their existence more powerful neighbors have threatened them.
For protection, until about 300 years ago the Dogon built their villages near or in the famous Bandiagara cliffs.
They have thus been nicknamed the Hill, Cliff and Mountain people.
Dogon art manifests in masks, architectural objects, statues, and vessels.
The Dogon realize that they are not the first inhabitants of the land that they now occupy.
Their myths, legends, traditions, and art retain the memories of their predecessors.
This vessel was kept in the house of a lineage head in a Dogon community.
It was used during an annual ritual known as “goru” to hold the offerings dedicated to Amma the Creator and the ancestors.
Performed at the time of the winter solstice, the ceremony represents the culmination
of rituals that celebrate the all-important millet harvest, whose abundance will support the family in the coming year.
Such works have been described as “aduno koro,” an “ark of the world,”
meant to represent the mythic ark sent by Amma to reorganize and populate the world.
The “aduno koro” displays a wealth of imagery relating to the Dogon account of genesis.
Holding the original human ancestors and everything they needed for life on earth,
the ark was guided by Nommo, the primordial being who created order within the universe.
When the ark settled on the ground,
Nommo transformed himself into a horse and transported the eight ancestors across the earth to water,
where the ark floated like a boat.
In this example, the horse’s head is fitted with a bridle,
representing Nommo’s transformation into equine form,
while the eight original ancestors are portrayed in two groups of five on the sides of the vessel.
The lizard-like creature separating the ancestors represents “ayo geu,”
a black crocodile who killed Nommo after he completed his task of guiding the ark.
Learn more about the Dogon Tribe here