Dyodyomini Mask

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HCC 1113-2

Dyodyomini Bird Mask, Dogon, Mali, Africa

H: 61 cm (24″), L: 59 cm (23,2″), W: 18 cm (7,1″)

This brilliantly carved mask with its long beak represents a hornbill. In Africa the hornbird has a variety of meanings. Some places the hornbill is considered a symbol of fertility with the long beak symbolizing the male sexual organ. In Vest Africa a hornbill also symbolizes elements favourable to hunting and the appropriate masks are worn for the occasion.
Bird masks, such as this fine piece from Mali, are known as Dyodyomini. They are thought to evoke the captured bird in Dogon mythology. Among the Dogon people of Mali large birds are identified with certain traits that the Dogon admire or that birds symbolically represent the Dogon way of life as agriculturists.

The female figure on top may be associated with ‘Satimbe’ the ancestral female the Dogon believe discovered masking and from whom masking was appropriated for use within the male domain.

Masks such as this were worn by men who as members of the ‘Awa Society’ would dance on the roof of a house of a recently deceased relative in order to lead its soul to its resting place. The Dogon had over 78 different types of mask representing birds, animals, mammals and reptiles.

Provenance: Private Belgian collection

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