Title: Dege Black Monkey Mask
Material: Wood, fiber
Description: 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.
Most masks have stylized features that are often painted or
colored with various pigments. 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
masks also appear during baga-bundo rites performed by small
numbers of masqueraders before the burial of a male Dogon.
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 ñ 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).13" h x 6 1/2" w x 4" Depth