Dyodyomini Mask


Carved wood
Early 20th century
Height: 13 ¾ in. (35 cm)
Length: 37 in. (94 cm)

Ex collection Arthur Barth, San Diego, acquired 1968
Ex Christie’s New York, May 1993, lot 64

Published “Art of the Dogon”,
Tambaran Gallery, New York, 2003
Yale University GvR Archive 0015847

Published: Parcours des Mondes 2016

Price: sold

Western Africa
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Deeply patinated by time and with use, this Dyodyomini mask represents a bird, the hornbill. Dancers wearing the masks scratched the ground with the beak, imitating the hornbill searching for food.
According to Marcel Griaule, the Dyodyomini myth is a reminder of how a young man, prostrate with grief at the death of his father, observed a hornbill scratching in the dirt for food before beginning to sing: this song inspired the grieving son and gave him the strength to proceed with the dama (mourning) ceremonies. By bringing back to life the great myths and their protagonists in masked ceremonies, the Dogon endeavor to re-establish balance in the world after the disruptions caused by death.
This very architectural mask is punctuated by two rectangles representing the eyes and the long, curving beak thrust out into space. It combines grace, great age and dynamism.