DOGON - MALI
The precise origins of the Dogon people, like those of most other peoples, are lost in the mists of time. But their history, beginning at the period when they migrated into the region of the Bandiagara cliffs, has been handed down through oral traditions.
The religious beliefs of the Dogon are complex and knowledge of them varies greatly in degree within Dogon society, it is based primarily on the worship of ancestors and the spirits encountered as they migrated to the Bandiagara cliffs. Knowledge of this type is passe don not only informally, but also within the matrix of the initiation process into adult life. Dogon art symbolizes both through nuance and candor differnet aspect of this body of religious belief. Cults of the Dogon include the Awa, Lebe and Binu. The Awa are the cult of the deceased whose purpose is to reorder the spiritual forces disturbed by the Nommo, the mytological ancestor of the Dogon. The Lebe (earth god) cult is focused with the agricultrural cycle and its chief priest is called a Hogon. there is a Lebe shine in every village, incorporating bits of earth into the altar to encourage continued fertility of the land. According to the beliefs of the DOgon, the god Lebe, visits the Hogons on a nightly basis as a serpent, licking their bodies to purify them and infuse them with life force.
The Binu is a totemic practice, having complax associations the the sacred places the Dogon use for ancestral worship, communication with spirits and sacrifices for agriculture. The Dogon believe in a supreme creative force, Amma, who inhibits the skies and created the universe. The Dogon spirituality strongly surrounds the Nommo, the first living being created by Amma, who soon multiplied to become four sets twins. One twin, rebelling against Amma, destabalized the universe, and in order to purify the cosmos and bringit back to order, Amma sacrificed another Nommo, cuting up th ebody and scattering it through the universe. Symbolically, Binu shines are proliferated to resemble the scattering of the Nommo body.
Amma had sex with the earth again and this time twins were born known as Nommo. One male and one female. The twins went up to heaven and were given instructions by their father, Amma. After this they looked down on the earth, their mother, and seeing she was naked came down and dressed her in a fabulous skirt. - (for more information see Dogon Cliff Dwellers - Pascal James Imperato.)
Dogon Masks - THere are aproxiamtely seventy-eight differnt types of masks among the Dogon. Masks are belong to the Awa society, the society of masks. In general a mask is the individual property of the society memberwho sculpts it or has it sculpted for him. For the Dogon, masks are a material supportfor the spiritual forces liberated by death. In traditional Dogon society, masked dances are performed during funeral ceremonies and durind special death anniversary ceremonies known as Dama. The latter are held every two or three years by a village or group of villages to honor several people who have diedsince the last Dama.
Art and Craft in Africa - Laure Meyer. ISBN:2-87939-098-2
Dogon Cliff Dwellers - Pascal James Imperato
Tribal Art of Africa - Jaques-Baptiste Bacquart. ISBN:0-500-28231-5