Dogon granary shutter (Video)
Front viewDeserted village of BananiMaps

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This granary shutter is carved of two crocodiles (ayo). These animals symbolized at the same time the fertilizing water of grounds and defended against robbers. The crocodile represents the animal that once belonged to the ancestor binu serou (the water element). This shutter was used by the totemic priest of the binu cult for sealing his granary. The close association of such shutter with vital food supplies harvested from binu fields means that it also symbolizes binu serou himself. The binu cult links the living to those early ancestors who are immortal.

This shutter was placed midway up the granary wall. It provided access, throughout the year following harvests, to the goods stored inside (millet, sorghum, rice, corn). The Dogon granaries are narrow, four-sided or round, with a structure made of wood and covered with cob, and generally a thatch roof or a terrace roof (see pictures). Shutters primarily protect the contents of the granaries by their symbolic presence. The crocodile (or caiman) is one of totemic animals of the Dogon. One as well finds it represented on shutters, as on attic posts, doors, or door locks. Sculpted by the blacksmith of the village for the hogon (spiritual chief) and notables, shutters are one of the major elements of Dogon art. Furrowed surface is the sign of a very great antiquity (probably between 16th and the 18th century).

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Object #4282

Origin :

Mali (Banani village, Bandiagara cliffs)

Type :

Architectural components

Ethnic group :


Material :

Densely brownish wood, furrowed and crusty patina

Size :

W = 6.4 inches; H = 11.8 inches

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