Chief's regalia (animal shaped pendant)
The exceptional group (927a-j) of cire perdue (lost wax) ornaments was purchased as being ‘Dogon chief’s regalia, Mali. Found in the lower falaise [cliff] of Bandiagara. Site – village of Irrele [?Tireli]’. There is no certainty that the ten pieces form a group, since they are an unmonitored find; in the absence of comparative material from scientific excavations their age and context cannot be established with any certainty.
The animal-shaped pendant (e) may represent the crocodile at the centre of the earth, where the genital of the dismembered nommo was thus transformed (see 928). The pale green patina has flaked off in a few places to show dark metal below, which may be copper, or a copper-rich alloy. Copper is associated with the serpent Lébé, the nommo who was sacrificed when the eight heads of lineage reached the earth. Lébé, the guiding spirit of the Third World of Amma (the present world), is an important figure to worship among the Dogon, and the hogon are the priests.
Margaret Carey, 1997
Entry taken from Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, Vol. 2: Pacific, African and Native North American Art, edited by Steven Hooper (Yale University Press, 1997) pp. 106-108.
Purchased by the Sainsbury Centre, University of East Anglia from Merton Simpson Gallery, New York on the advice of Robert Sainsbury in 1986 out of funds provided by the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Art Trust.
Not on display
Title/Description: Chief's regalia (animal shaped pendant)
Measurements: l. 75 x w. 36 x d. 7 mm
Accession Number: 927e
Historic Period: 16th-19th century
Cultural Group: Dogon
Credit Line: Purchased with support from the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Art Trust, 1986