Have you ever heard about the Dogon people and their ancient traditions?
During our trip through Mali in the far 2008, we crossed the beautiful and remote Bandiagara plateau. In the midst of this mountainous region, the Dogon population took refuge around the 12th century to escape from Islamic persecution. The exceptional isolation has allowed their cultural tradition and their animist religion to reach the present days. This mysterious tradition has fascinated anthropologists and scholars for decades.
Precious artistic forms symbolize the cult of the ancestors and a complex cosmogony: sculptures, doors, windows and stairs in carved wood, musical instruments and ritual dances where all the dancer wear ancient masks. In our 5 days trekking, we had the luck to watch the fascinating Dogon dance and be amazed by its traditional masks.
The Dogon dance is linked to the animist religion. During this ritual called Dama that favours the reunification of the deceased with the ancestors in the afterlife world, the dancers wear wooden masks depicting animals, people and mythological figures.
Tribal voices and percussion accompany this interesting representation: at first, the masks form a circle walking and dancing together, then they alternate with each other accompanied by songs and drums. We love Africa, and admiring the Dogon ancient ritual up close was truly unique, one of the most beautiful experiences we have ever done throughout this stunning continent.
The local guide told us that one of the most popular masks is known as ”Kanaga”. These masks are characterized by a wooden superstructure in the form of a double-barred cross with short vertical elements projecting from the tips of each horizontal bar. Unfortunately, at the moment, it is not safe to travel through this beautiful country, but we hope a day it will be possible to revisit the Bandiagara plateau and meet its inhabitants and their mysterious traditions.