There are nearly eighty styles of Dogon masks. For the
most part, they all utilize various geometric shapes in their
design, independent of the various animals they represent.
The Dogon continue an
ancient masquerading tradition called "Dama" which commemorates the origin of death. Dama memorial ceremonies
are held to accompany the deceased into the ancestral
realm and restore order to the universe. In the case of the
dama, the types of masks involved, and other ritual elements
are often specific to one or two villages and may not resemble those seen in locations only several miles away.
The better known Kanaga and Sirige masks are followed in
the dama ceremony by masks that evoke the behavior of
some of the animals that inhabit the regions where the
Dogon live and hunt.
They include among others - antelopes, hares, lions, hyenas,
cows, birds and monkeys.
According to Dogon beliefs, the monkey represents wild, uncivilized, dangerous, and antisocial behavior – the direct
opposite of their beliefs about the way a proper, solid, upstanding Dogon person is expected to behave. The Dogon
utilize three types of monkey masks which are identified
solely by their color rather than their shape. For the Dogon,
Dege is the black monkey, while the white monkey is known
as Omono, and the red monkey is called Ko.
The myths of all may not be known, but it has been written
that the black monkeys, Dege, are the "male villains of the
bush." The black monkeys stand for wickedness, gluttony
and must not be emulated because it is the antithesis of the
Dogon order (Sieber & Walker 1987, p. 134).
Ex private New York collection, the mask includes a hanging device.
Height: 15" x Width: 6" x Depth: 8"