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

Mali; Dogon artist

Door panel


H. 87 cm (34 1/ 4”)

University of Iowa Stanley Museum of Art, The Stanley Collection of African Art, X1986.287

This door is decorated with a large female figure and five smaller figures, all obscured by the effects of wind, rain, and extensive handling. Because many Dogon doors are made in two parts joined by iron bands, it is likely that this door originally had a second half, indicated by the holes through which metal bands might have passed. Although it is impossible to be certain, the second half of this door may have mirrored the first, with one large and several smaller figures. We might expect that with its second half this door displayed two large and eight small figures, depictions of mythological beings and ancestors from the complex Dogon cosmology. Central to this cosmology are the primordial couple and the eight original ancestors, the nommo.