Thief's staff Yo Domolo (Detail)
Yougo Na villageYougo Na and cliffsMaps

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Item : Thief's staff Yo Domolo, Picture : Detail (approx. 19 Kbytes)


Held in the hand or worn over the shoulder, this curved staff is the emblem of the society of yona (« ritual thieves », younw). The principal activity of the society seems to occur at the funeral of one of its members, stealing domestic animals to be sacrificed and eaten at the funeral ceremony. Each Dogon clan has a ritual thief. This staff is called yo domolo (« thief's staff »), and has a hook-shaped form similar to weapons and tools sometimes used as ritual objects in binu altars.
This thief's staff is decorated with zigzag symbolizing the rain (the mythical ancestor lebe), and the shorter resembles the head of a horse like animal with pointed ears. It should be interpreted as a symbol of the horse that pulled nommo celestial ark to water after its fall to earth, or also as the mythical blacksmith stealing embers of the sun in order to create fire.
19th century or earlier.

Object #4236

Origin :

Mali (Bandiagara cliffs, village of Yougo Na)

Type :

Ritual items

Ethnic group :

Dogon

Material :

Fine aged patinated wood with brownish and partly crusted patina

Size :

H = 25.3 inches

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