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You Are Here:  Home  >  Africa  >  Mali  >  The Dogon Tribes
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The Dogon Tribes

Mali, West Africa

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Dogon villages and burial sites are built into the cliffs
africa, cliffs, dogon, dwellings, mali, subsahara, vertical, photograph
The Dogon people moved to the Bandiagara Escarpment in the 15th century, successfully escaping Muslim expansion and preserving their traditions and culture. Dogon farmers have created green oases around their cliffside villages by constructing irrigation channels. The contain are the Dogon ancestral burial caves, which span over a thousand miles of the escarpment.
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A Dogon Dance Mask
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This construction appears identical to those found in the southwestern United States, where the Anasazi Indians lived over a thousand years ago. While the Anasazi ruins, like Hovenweep or Mesa Verde, are few and abandoned long ago, the Dogon still occupy and continue to build the same cliff dwellings today.

The Dogon have an ancient and complex cosmology based on a single god, Amma, who created the sun, moon, and the stars. Interestingly, the Dogon always believed that the Earth was round and circled the Sun. It has also been found that they believed there are eleven planets in the solar system, and that they originally came from the star cluster Sirius. Their artistic designs in woodcarvings and masks had a major influence on modern art, including Picasso. Their dances include over 80 varieties of masks, depending on the type of celebration.

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Dogon Dance #1
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Dogon Dance #2
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Dogon Dance #3
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Woodcarvings #1
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Woodcarvings #2
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Circumcision Graduate
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Every three years, the Dogon round up all the boys over the age of 12 who have not yet been circumcized, and begin the ritual of passage to manhood. High in the cliffs, there is a special place where boys are seated on a special stone where chop! and a week-long tradition of teachings and exercizses prepares the young men for adulthood. It is here where they are taught ancient rules for social and all other forms of conduct in the village. They also perform tasks, such as playing musical instruments, throwing stones, and not crying during the big snip.
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Elders looking on
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Old man with cane, which I bought for $6.
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Baby Nursing
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Aligator Doorhandle
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Door and Ladder
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