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HOME : African & Tribal Art : African Stools : Dogon Wooden Circumcision Stool
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Dogon Wooden Circumcision Stool - PF.3284
Origin: Southeastern Mali/Burkina Faso
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 10.5" (26.7cm) high
Collection: African
Medium: Wood

Location: United States
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The Dogon of Mali have maintained their tribal culture with great tenacity in their rocky and inhospitable fortress above the Bandiagara escarpment. In sculpture, they are among the outstanding tribes of Africa. As other wooden sculptures of Dogon tribe, this stool stands out with its simplistic, abstract beauty. This fascinating wooden sculpture, however, had a specific function; it was used for circumcising young girls. With the onset of puberty, many African children face a momentous change. Childhood is over and the new period of life is introduced by a rite of passage traditional ritual, iniation which involves circumcision. The significance of such initiation was the end of childhood and the entry of the individual into the adult world, bringing new status, rights and responsibilities. Unlike some other African tribes which only have male initiation rites, or only female, Dogon tribe practices circumcision for both boys and girls. It is believed that only this treatment can prepare a novice for marriage. The base of this wooden stool is a thick disk on which eight abstract female figures support the top of the stool. The eight figures are almost identical, all of them showing breasts and protruding belly with their arms around them. The circumcision being Dogon tribes rite of passage for both genders, the wooden stool becomes more than just a functional object. It becomes an art work which embodies cultural and aesthetic significance. - (PF.3284)


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