Monday, 25 June 2012

Installing a Hogon in Sangha, Mali, 2012


Hogon are medicinal specialists, herbalists and healers among the Dogon people of Mali. These photos, from a set recently posted on Facebook, shows views of the installation of two hogon in the village of Sangha, one of the best known and most frequently visited Dogon villages. The great quantity and variety of locally made textiles on display provide a superb insight into the use of hand-woven cloth in the region today.

In the photo above a mud brick house has been draped in cloths to serve as a backdrop for the event. Brightly coloured strip weave blankets of the types that can be found in markets throughout the Sahel provide dramatic blocks of colour. Most of these cloths would have been the work of Mabuube weavers, a weavers ‘clan’ attached to Fulani families. In between is a darker row (click the photo to enlarge) made up of blue and white prestige blankets called uldebe. These cloths, in which nine strips are matched to nine blocks of weft designs, are of considerable prestige and ritual significance among the Dogon. Finally, stacked at the stop are wheels of plain white cotton cloth strips, an ancient form of wealth throughout the Sahel, that today form the basis for either indigo resist dyed wrappers of for bogolan mud dyed fabrics for sale to tourists.


The hogon is seated on an uldebe cloth against a backdrop of multi-coloured tapie blankets, with more wheels of white cotton cloth at his side. He wears a beautiful indigo dyed robe, and on his head, a turban of very narrow strip indigo cloth most likely imported from Nigeria. At his feet another uldebe serves as a receptacle for gifts.


A women celebrant in her best outfit wears another blanket, an updated black and yellow version of an old blue and white design,  as a prestige shawl.


All photos by Inogo Dolo, reproduced with permission.

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