Dogon Shrine Figure, Bandiagara, Mali, classical period, 14th to 19th century, sculptured tree root, with a dry and in parts heavily encrusted patina, ht. 23 in. (59.0 cm).
Provenance: Philippe Guimiot, Brussels, Belgium.
Note: According to Mr. Guimiot, "In this work, the Dogon sculptor has discovered a human form in the haphazard, twisted natural shape of a tree root; the sculptor has limited himself to cutting a notch in the upper part of the root to bring forth the simple, powerful shape of a neck and head; in this way, he has helped the figure emerge from beneath the calloused skin of the root. It should be emphasized that the Dogon sculptors, were not merely artists endowed with sensitivity, inspiration, and creative talent. They were demiurges, communicating with the spirits of the bush and the ancestral world on behalf of the tribal group. Between the hands of these sculptors the ancestral spirits could take material form, appearing within statues, figures carved in high relief, or other protective objects. As avowed intermediaries, there demiurges were able-with a few blows of an adze-to discover a guardian spirit hidden within the trunk of a tree. Why not also in the root of a tree?"
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