Anonymous: Dogon Kanaga Mask (19th century)

(Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis,USA)


Masks of the Dogon people (Mali) are very famous and this so-called 'Kanaga' mask is one of the most well-known. These masks were used in ceremonial funeral dances called 'dama'. These dances function as a manner to transport the souls of deceased away from the village and to honor and commemorate the dead as they enter the ancestral realm. the exact meaning of the kanaga mask is unclear. According to some they are birds of prey with outspread wings, according to others it symbolizes the axis of the world (the upper crossbar representing the sky and the lower one the earth). Dogon masks are very popular tourist attractions and today they are usually made for tourists. This mask is from the 19th century

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