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Currently shown

Tintam Male Figure

Location

MALI, NORTH-CENTRAL BANDIAGARA PLATEAU

Culture

Dogon

Title

Tintam Male Figure

Date

16th-17th c.

Materials

Wood, metal

Dimensions

94 cm (h.), 40.6 cm (diam.)

Credits

Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1960.F.1

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

Radiocarbon dating has established that this figure was created in the sixteenth or seventeenth century. It is one of the oldest known Dogon sculptures. The ovoid head with close-set eyes, square shoulders and slender limbs are characteristic of the tintam style. The seated position of the figure indicates his rank. This is a hogon, the highest spiritual authority. He is removing his bracelets before entering into communication with the ancestors. The two horizontal discs of the stool convey the earth and the sky linked by a central axis, while the zigzag motifs represent water and speech. On the legs of the stool are carved human figures and crocodiles, intermediaries between the human and divine worlds. This type of statue would have had a commemorative function, allowing it to give material support to the deceased person’s vital energy (nyama).

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