The University of Iowa University of Iowa

The Status of Dogon Visual Culture

by Allen F. Roberts
University of California, Los Angeles (formerly University of Iowa)

Village of Sanga, Mali. Photo by Mary Kujawski Roberts and Allen F. Roberts. Submitted by Allen F. Roberts.


The major site of Dogon research has been the village of Sanga, seen here. Marcel Griaule began his studies in Sanga in the 1930s, and as late as the mid-1980s, his student Germaine Dieterlain was still making annual visits to the house she maintained in Sanga, working with the same Dogon collaborators for more than fifty years. The most important tourist hotel and related activities are located in Sanga as well, and the images featured here show the sorts of picturesque scenes a tourist encounters. Here sheep graze beneath a gigantic baobab tree that provides Dogon with many useful products, from fiber for rope to edible leaves and fruit. The pigeonholes of a ginna family shrine building may be seen in the center background. The rocky outcropping behind the village is the top of the great cliff seen in previous screens. The odd fact that no people are to be seen in this or most of the photos to follow is because the first rain of the season had just occurred just before these pictures were taken, and everyone was seeing to preparing their fields for planting.