Dogon Bronze

HCK 1217-1

Dogon Bronze Pair, Mali

This 19th Century, beautiful Dogon-wedding couple is made of bronze and
cast in the extremely time-consuming lost wax process*).

The Dogon have a highly sophisticated artisan tradition of art and is primarily mirror-images, aproned figures, and standing sculpture. Dogon art revolves around religious values, ideals, and freedoms. Dogon sculptures are not made to be seen publicly, and are commonly hidden from the public eye within the houses of families, sanctuaries, or kept with the Hogon . The importance of secrecy is due to the symbolic meaning behind the pieces and the process by which they are made.

Themes found throughout Dogon sculpture consist very often of married couples. As an example of traditional African art, Dogon bronze figure and masks in particular, became popular and well-known in Western art circles in the 20th century.

*) The lost wax process (cire perdue) involves first the creating of the item in very hard wax. Very fine clay substance is carefully placed in all of the figure’s “cavities” to eventually form a “shell” of the clay packed around figure. When the clay is dry and hard, several small holes will be drilled in the clay shell, which will then be placed in an oven or on a fire, after which all wax flows out. Then, the cavity is filled out with a liquid bronze (copper, tin and led together with arsenic). The lead is to make the metal more fluid and arsenic to make the shape more durable. Finally, when the figure is dry and hard, the clay shell breaks and hopefully a beautiful and complete casting will show. If everything is successful you stand with this small ‘miracle’ of a gold weight. Thus, multiple copies cannot be made without restarting the entire process.

Age: 18th–19th century

Measure: Male: H: 13, W: 3, D: 1 cm – Woman: H: 13, W: 3,5, D: 1 cm

Condition: Despite the age and the long-standing stay in the families sanctuarie, this figure is in an exceptionally good condition.

Provenience: Belgian private collection – acquired through Brussels art dealer.

Literature: DOGON by Hélène Leloup for the exhibition “Dogon” in 2012 at the Musée du Quai Branly, Paris.

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