Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dogon peoples of Mali, Seated Couple

Dogon peoples of Mali, Seated Couple

Gender roles are an interesting subject. They change over many geographical lines and have been in transition since the creation of man. This 28 3/4 inch statue shows a culture that valued both genders the same. This can be seen be the fact that the statues are shown to be relatively the same size. You can see a quiver on the back of the guy and there is a baby backpack thing on the back of the woman. This shows the responsibility of both genders. Neither is played as more prominent than the other, further reinforcing that equality of the genders. Both roles would have been seen as important to Dogon society. A high infant mortality and the desire to survive in the tough African landscape would have made this an absolute necessity. This balance and equality is a central part of the Dogon mythology. The man's arm is over the woman in the statue. This could be because of the man's role as the protector or the slight dominance the man had in the relationship, as the man was the one that could own land in their society. 
There are small figures on the base of their stool.  They are believed to represent the ancestors, who played a heavy role in their society. Despite the ancestors presence in the artwork, this was not meant to be an addition to shrine for the ancestors. This type of statue would have been displayed at funeral sessions. The smoothness and elegance of the seated couple, and the fact that it has survived to the present, suggests that this particular piece would have been made for the funeral of an important figure in the tribe; perhaps a chief. This wood and metal structure looks amazing and is clearly fit for the funeral of a powerful figure in the society. It was given to the Metropolitan museum in 1977 by Lester Wunderman. If you go now (like right now; I'd suggest United Airlines; here are the Met's hours {}) this statue is in gallery 350.

Other examples of Dogon art*&who=Dogon

Information on the Dogon people

Gender roles in Africa


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