By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)

MaliDogon artist

Granary door

Wood, iron

H. 74.6 cm (29 ¾”)

University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, The Stanley Collection of African Art, X1986.179

Millet, a staple grain of the Dogon diet, is stored in large mud granaries that stand beside houses in family compounds. The field photo below shows several such granaries. These granaries represent a family's insurance against starvation in the arid, drought-ridden Dogon region. The wooden doors or shutters that cover the granary's opening are often decorated with figurative carving in the linear style that characterizes much Dogon sculpture. Carved on a door, such references to ancestral forces may serve a protective role, invoking their power to ensure the continued well-being of the family and the community.

Dogon granaries, Mali, 1986. Photo by Mary Kujawski Roberts and Allen F. Roberts. Submitted by Allen F. Roberts.