Dogon granary shutter (Front view)
ZoomFront viewGranary and shuttersDeserted village of BananiMaps

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Item : Dogon granary shutter, Picture : Front view (approx. 29 Kbytes)

This granary shutter is carved of a crocodile (ayo), animal symbolizing at the same time the fertilizing water of grounds and defending 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. 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. Extremely furrowed surface is the sign of a very great antiquity (probably between 16th and the 18th century). This granary shutter is coming from the deserted Tellem village of Banani, cave dwellers settlement in the cliffs. These caves and deserted old granaries are considered as sacred places by the Dogon themselves (see attached pictures).

Object #2374

Origin :

Mali (Banani village area, Bandiagara cliffs)

Type :

Architectural components

Ethnic group :


Material :

Densely brownish wood, furrowed patina

Size :

W = 12.2 inches; H = 15.7 inches

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