The Dogon are a group of people living in the central plateau region of Mali, south of the Niger bend near the city of Bandiagara in the Mopti region. Mali, officially the Republic of Mali (République du Mali is a Landlocked nation in Western Africa. The Niger River (ˈnaɪdʒɚ NYE-jer) is the principal River of western Africa, extending about 4180 km (2600 miles Bandiagara is a city in the Malian "Dogon Country" Pronounced /Ban'yə'gar'ə/ the name translates roughly to "large eating bowl" -- referring to the Mopti (Pronounced Mohti) is a city at the confluence of the Niger and the Bani in Mali, between Timbuktu and They number just under 800,000. The Dogon are best known for their mythology, their mask dances, wooden sculpture and their architecture. The past century has seen significant changes in the social organization, material culture and beliefs of the Dogon, partly because Dogon country is one of Mali's major tourist attractions.
The principal Dogon area is bisected by the Bandiagara Escarpment, a sandstone cliff of up to 500m (1,640 ft) high, stretching for about 150km (almost 100 miles). The Bandiagara Escarpment is an Escarpment in the Dogon country of Mali. To the southeast of the cliff, the sandy Séno-Gondo Plains are found, and northwest of the cliff are the Bandiagara Highlands. The current population is at least 450,000. Historically, Dogon villages have frequently fallen victim to Islamic slave raiders. For other meanings including people named 'Islam' see Islam (disambiguation.  Neighboring Islamic tribal groups acted as slave merchants, as the growth of cities increased the demand for slaves across the region of West Africa. The historical pattern has included murder of indignenous males by Islamic jihadists and enslavement of women and children.  As early as the 12th century AD the Dogon people fled west to avoid conversion to Islam and enslavement. 
At the end of the eighteenth century, the jihads that were triggered by the resurgence of Islam caused slaves to be sought for warfare. Dogon insecurity in the face of these historical pressures caused them to locate their villages in defensible positions along the walls of the escarpment. The other factor influencing their choice of settlement location is water. Nearby is the Niger and in the sandstone rock, a rivulet runs at the foot of the cliff at the lowest point of the area during the wet season.
Dogon art is primarily sculpture. Dogon art revolves around religious values, ideals, and freedoms (Laude, 19). Dogon sculptures are not made to be seen publicly, and are commonly hidden from the public eye within the houses of families, sanctuaries, or kept with the Hogon (Laude, 20). Sanctuary has multiple meanings A sanctuary is the consecrated area of a church or temple around its tabernacle or altar The importance of secrecy is due to the symbolic meaning behind the pieces and the process by which they are made.
Themes found throughout Dogon sculpture consist of figures with raised arms, superimposed bearded figures, horsemen, stools with caryatids, women with children, figures covering their faces, women grinding pearl millet, women bearing vessels on their heads, donkeys bearing cups, musicians, dogs, quadruped-shaped troughs or benches, figures bending from the waist, mirror-images, aproned figures, and standing figures (Laude, 46-52). Pearl millet ( Pennisetum glaucum) is the most widely grown type of Millet. Vessels are a Post-rock band from Leeds, UK. Vessels were born from the ashes of A Day Left in September 2005 The donkey or ass, Equus asinus, is a member of the Equidae or horse family and an odd-toed ungulate. A musician is a person who plays or writes Music. Musicians can be classified by their roles in creating or performing music An instrumentalist plays a The dog ( Canis lupus familiaris) is a domesticated Subspecies of the gray wolf, a Mammal of the Canidae family of the order Signs of other contacts and origins are evident in Dogon art. The Dogon people were not the first inhabitants of the cliffs of Bandiagara. Influence from Tellem art is evident in Dogon art because of its rectilinear designs (Laude, 24). The Tellem were the people who inhabited the Bandiagara Escarpment in Mali.
The majority of Dogon practice an animist religion, including the ancestral spirit Nommo, with its festivals and Sirian mythology. Animism (from Latin anima ( Soul, Life) commonly refers to a religious belief that Souls or Spirits exist in Animals The Nommo are ancestral spirits (sometimes referred to as deities worshipped by the Dogon tribe of Mali. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky with a visual Apparent magnitude of &minus1 A significant minority of the Dogon practice Islam, and some have been converted by missionaries to Christianity. For other meanings including people named 'Islam' see Islam (disambiguation. Christianity ( Greek Χριστιανισμός from the word Xριστός ( Christ)is a monotheistic Religion centered on the life and teachings
The Dogon record their ancestry through a patrilineal system. Each Dogon community, or enlarged family, is headed by one male elder. This chief head is the oldest living son of the ancestor of the local branch of the family. According to the NECEP database, within this patrilineal system polygynic marriages, with up to four spouses can occur. Patrilineality (aka agnatic kinship) is a system in which one belongs to one's father's lineage it generally involves the Inheritance of property names or titles Polygyny (which comes from neo- Greek: πολύ poly "many" + γυνή gyny "woman" is a specific form of Polygamy,
Most men, however, have only one wife; and it is rare for a man to have more than two wives. Formally, wives only join their husband's residence unit after the birth of their first child. Women may leave their husbands early in their marriage, before the birth of their first child. After having children, divorce is a rare and serious matter, and it requires the participation of the whole village. An enlarged family can count up to hundred persons and is called guinna.
The Dogon are strongly oriented toward harmony, and this harmony is reflected in many of their rituals. For instance, in one of their most important rituals, the women praise the men, the men thank the women, the young express appreciation for the old, and the old recognize the contributions of the young. Another example is the custom of elaborate greetings whenever one Dogon meets another. This custom is repeated over and over, throughout a Dogon village, all day. During a greeting ritual, the person who has entered the contact answers a series of questions about his or her whole family, from the person who was already there. Invariably, the answer is sewa, which means that everything is fine. Then the Dogon who has entered the contact repeats the ritual, asking the resident how his or her whole family is. Because of the word sewa is so commonly repeated throughout a Dogon village, neighboring peoples have dubbed the Dogon the sewa people.
The Hogon is the spiritual leader of the village. He is elected between the oldest men of the enlarged families of the village. After his election he has to follow a six-month initiation period, during which he is not allowed to shave or wash. Initiation is a Rite of passage Ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society He wears white cloths and nobody is allowed to touch him. A young virgin that has not yet had her period takes care of him, cleans the house and prepares his meals. The menstrual cycle is a recurring cycle of physiologic changes that occurs in reproductive-age Females Overt menstruation (where there is blood flow from the She returns to her home during the night. After his initiation, he will wear a red bonnet. He has an armband with a sacred pearl that symbolises his function. A pearl is a hard roundish object produced within the soft tissue (specifically the mantle) of a living shelled Mollusk. The virgin is replaced by one of his wives, but she also returns to her home at night. The Hogon has to live alone in his house. During the night, the sacred snake Lébé comes to clean him and to transfer wisdom. A snake is an elongate Reptile of the suborder Serpentes Like all reptiles snakes are covered in scales. Wisdom is a concept of personal gaining of Knowledge, Understanding, Experience, discretion and intuitive understanding, along with a capacity
The Dogon maintain an agricultural mode of subsistence, and cultivate pearl millet, sorghum and rice, as well as onions, tobacco, peanuts, and some other vegetables. Agriculture refers to the production of goods through the growing of plants and fungi and the raising of domesticated Animals The study of agriculture Sorghum is a genus of numerous species of grasses, some of which are raised for grain and many of which are used as Fodder plants either cultivated or as part Rice is a Cereal foodstuff which forms an important part of the diet of many people worldwide and as such it is a staple food for many Organicsalsajpg||thumb|right|Onions used in salsa.]]Cooked onions in frying pan Tobacco is an Agricultural product recognized as an addictive drug processed from the fresh Leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. The term " vegetable " generally means the edible parts of Plants The definition of the word is traditional rather than Scientific, however Marcel Griaule stimulated the construction of a dam near Sangha and incited the Dogon to cultivate onions. Marcel Griaule (1898 &ndash 1956 was a French anthropologist known for his studies of the Dogon people of West Africa, and for pioneering Organicsalsajpg||thumb|right|Onions used in salsa.]]Cooked onions in frying pan The economy of the Sangha region doubled since then and onions are sold as far as on the market of Bamako or even in Ivory Coast. Bamako, population 1690471 (2006 is the Capital and largest city of Mali, and currently estimated to be the fastest growing city in Côte d'Ivoire (ˌkoʊt divˈwɑː(r ' in English, kot diˈvwaʀ in French) or Ivory Coast, officially the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, is a They also raise sheep, goats and chickens. The domestic goat ( Capra aegagrus hircus) is a subspecies of goat Domesticated from the Wild goat of Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe The chicken ( Gallus gallus, sometimes G gallus domesticus) is a domesticated Fowl which is traditionally believed to have descended from Grain is stored in granaries.
Boys are circumcised in age groups of three years, counting for example all boys between 9 and 12 years old. Male circumcision is the removal of some or all of the Foreskin (prepuce from the Penis. This marks the end of their youth, and they are now initiated. Initiation is a Rite of passage Ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society The blacksmith performs the circumcision. blacksmith is a person who creates objects from Iron or Steel by Forging the Metal; i Afterwards, they stay for a few days in a hut separated from the rest of the village people, until the wound has healed. The circumcision is a reason for celebration and the initiated boys go around and receive presents. They make music on a special instrument that is made of a rod of wood and calabashes that makes the sound of a rattle. The calabash or African bottle gourd (not to be confused with the Calabaza) is a Vine grown for its fruit which can either be harvested young and used A rattle is a Percussion instrument. It consists of a hollow body filled with small uniform solid objects like sand or nuts The village of Songho has a circumcision cave ornamented with red and white rock paintings of animals and plants. Cave paintings are Paintings on Cave walls and ceilings and the term is used especially for those dating to Prehistoric times Nearby is a cave where music instruments are stored. A musical instrument is a device constructed or modified for the purpose of making Music. The newly circumcized men must walk around naked for a moon after the procedure so that their achievement in age can be admired by the citizens of the tribe. This practice has been passed down for generations and is always followed, even during winter.
They are one of several African ethnic groups which practice excision of the female genitalia; see female genital cutting. Female genital cutting (FGC also known as female genital mutilation (FGM female circumcision or female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C refers to According to Sékou Ogobara Dolo, at least in the Sangha region, the milder form is practiced. Sanga or Sangha is a group of thirteen villages in the Dogon Country region of Mali, lying east of Bandiagara at the top of an Escarpment This means that only the clitoral hood is removed, which is similar to male circumcision. Girls are circumsized around the age of 7 or 8 years, sometimes younger. Circumcision for both male and female is seen as necessary for the individual to gain gender. Before circumcision they are seen as 'neuter'.
Due to the expense, their traditional funeral rituals or “damas” are becoming very rare. A funeral is a Ceremony marking a person's Death. Funerary customs comprise the complex of Beliefs and practices used by a Culture to remember They may be performed years after the death. Damas that are still performed today are not usually performed for their original intent, but instead are done as a source of entertainment for tourists interested in the Dogon way of life. See also Entertainment (disambiguation and The Entertainer (disambiguation Entertainment is an activity designed to give people The Dogon use this entertainment to gain profit by charging the tourists money for what masks they want to see and the ritual itself (Davis, 68). A mask is an artefact normally worn on the face typically for protection concealment performance or amusement The traditional dama consists of a masquerade that essentially leads the souls of the departed to their final resting places through a series of ritual dances and rites. The soul, according to many religious and philosophical beliefs is the self-awareness, or Consciousness, unique to a particular living Dogon damas include the use of many masks and statuettes. Each Dogon village may differ in the designs of the masks used in the dama ritual. Every village may have their own way of performing the dama rituals. The dama consists of an event, known as the Halic, immediately after the death of a person and lasts for one day (Davis, 68). According to Shawn R. Davis, this particular ritual incorporates the elements of the yingim and the danyim. During the yincomoli ceremony, a gourd is smashed over the deceased’s wooden bowl, hoe, and bundukamba, (burial blanket), which announces the entrance of the masks used in this ceremony while the deceased entrance to their home in the family compound is decorated with ritual elements (Davis, 72-73). This article refers to the Dried fruit shell For the alternative country musical group of a similar name see The Gourds. A bowl is a common open-top container used in many cultures to serve Food, and is also used for Drinking and storing other items Hoes are Bladed Tools used to agitate the surface of the Soil around Plants to remove weeds pile soil around the base Masks used during the yincomoli ceremony include the Yana Gulay mask, the Satimbe mask, the Sirigie mask, and the Kanaga mask. The Yana Gulay mask’s purpose is to impersonate a Fulani woman and is made from cotton cloth and cowell shells. Cotton is a soft staple Fibre that grows around the seeds of the cotton plant ( Gossypium sp The Satimbe mask represents the women ancestors who are said to have discovered the purpose of the masks by guiding the spirits of the deceased into the afterlife. The English word " spirit " comes from the Latin " spiritus " (breath AfterLife is a film drama set in Scotland directed by Alison Peebles made in 2003 about an ambitious Scottish journalist forced to choose between (Davis, 74) The Sirigie mask is a tall mask that is only used in funerals for the men that were alive during the holding of the Sigui ceremony (see below) (Davis, 68). The Kanaga masqueraders, at one point, dance and sit next to the bundkamba which represents the deceased.
The yingim and the danyim rituals each last a few days. These events are held annually to honor the elders that have died since the last Dama. The yingim consists of the sacrifice of cows, or other valuable animals, and large mock battles performed in order to help chase the spirit, known as the nyama, from the deceased body and village and towards the path to the afterlife (Davis, 68). The danyim then takes place a couple of months later. During the danyim, masqueraders perform dances every morning and evening for anytime up to six days depending on how that village performs this ritual. The masqueraders dance on the deceased’s rooftops, throughout the village, and the area of fields around the village (Davis, 68). Until the masqueraders have completed their dances and every ritual has been performed, it is said that any misfortune can be blamed on the remaining spirits of the dead (Davis, 68).
The Dogon know different cults:
Dogon villages have different buildings:
Dogon has been frequently referred to as a single language. The Dogon languages are spoken by the Dogon in Mali. There are about 600000 speakers of approximately 15 languages In reality, there are at least five distinct groups of dialects The Dogon language family is internally highly diverse, and many varieties are not mutually intelligible, actually 12 dialects and 50 variations. There is also a secret language Sigui So, which is used by the Society of the Masks during the Sigui ceremonies. Women have no right to learn Sigui So.
It is generally accepted that the Dogon languages belong to the Niger-Congo language family, but there is less certainty about their place within this family. The Dogon languages are spoken by the Dogon in Mali. There are about 600000 speakers of approximately 15 languages The Niger-Congo languages constitute one of the world's major language families, and Africa 's largest in terms of geographical area number of speakers and number The Dogon group has been linked to the Mande subfamily but also to Gur. The Mande languages are spoken in several countries in West Africa by the Mandé people and include Mandinka, Soninke, Bambara The Gur languages, also known as Central Gur, belong to the Niger-Congo languages. In a recent overview of the Niger-Congo phylum, Dogon is treated as an independent branch before Volta-Congo. In the classification of African languages Volta-Congo is a hypothetical major branch of the Niger-Congo family. 
The Dogon languages show few remnants of a noun class system (one example is that human nouns take a distinct plural suffix), leading linguists to conclude that Dogon is likely to have diverged from Niger-Congo very early. In Linguistics, the term noun class refers to a system of categorizing Nouns A noun may belong to a given class because of characteristic features of its Referent Another indication of this is the Subject Object Verb basic word order, which Dogon shares with such early Niger-Congo branches as Ijoid and Mande. In Linguistic typology, Subject Object Verb (SOV is the type of languages in which the subject, object, and Verb of a sentence appear or usually The Ijoid languages are spoken by the Ịjọ ( Ijaw) and Defaka (Afakani peoples of the Niger Delta, who number about ten million The Mande languages are spoken in several countries in West Africa by the Mandé people and include Mandinka, Soninke, Bambara It is a passive voice language.
Certain researchers investigating the Dogon have reported that they seem to possess advanced astronomical knowledge, the nature and source of which has subsequently become embroiled in controversy. From 1931 to 1956, two French anthropologists, Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen, spent 25 years with the Dogon, during which time they were initiated into the tribe. Marcel Griaule (1898 &ndash 1956 was a French anthropologist known for his studies of the Dogon people of West Africa, and for pioneering Germaine Dieterlen (1903-1999 was a French Anthropologist. She was a student of Marcel Mauss and wrote on a large range of Ethnographic topics and made  Griaule and Dieterlen reported that the Dogon appeared to know that the brightest star in the sky, Sirius, has a faint companion, Sirius B, which requires a fairly large telescope to be seen. Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky with a visual Apparent magnitude of &minus1 They also appeared to know of the rings of Saturn, and the Moons of Jupiter, which were not discovered by astronomers until after the invention of the telescope in the 17th century. Saturn has the most extensive Planetary ring system of any planet in the Solar System. Jupiter has 62 confirmed moons, giving it the largest retinue of moons with "reasonably secure" orbits of any planet in the Solar System  This is a puzzle because the Dogon do not have telescopes. The controversy escalated when author Robert Temple suggested an extra-terrestrial source of the Dogon's knowledge. Robert K G Temple (born in the US in 1945 is an American author best known for his controversial book The Sirius Mystery (1976 though  Griaule and Dieterlen made no claims on the source of the Dogon's knowledge.
though they do speak about sigu tolo [which is what Griaule claimed the Dogon called Sirius] they disagree completely with each other as to which star is meant; for some it is an invisible star that should rise to announce the sigu [festival], for another it is Venus that, through a different position, appears as sigu tolo. All agree, however, that they learned about the star from Griaule'
Griaule's daughter, Genevieve Calame-Griaule, has retorted that criticisms of her father's findings are mostly rooted in speculation.  An independent assessment is given by Andrew Apter of the University of California.