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Unknown Maker
Shutter Shutter
19th-20th century 19th-20th century

When the Dogon peoples first migrated to southern Mali, they built their villages on top of the Bandiagara escarpment. In this rocky terrain, they relied on hunting, but after the French colonial government took control of the area, many Dogon moved to the plain and have since become subsistence farmers. In a land of infertile soil and little water, they grow millet, maize, peanuts, beans and sorghum. Thus granaries, store-houses for their crops, are important structures in their villages.

Carved shutters are found on granaries, shrines and the houses of community leaders. They also mark important gateways and offer protection at thresholds, which are thought to be particularly dangerous transition points among the Dogon. Although more recent models incorporate reptiles, birds, breasts and a range of geometric designs, older examples, as seen in the Lang shutter, generally include multiple rows of simplified, androgynous figures, which may represent primordial beings or ancestors.

 
Unknown Maker
Dogon peoples Dogon peoples
Shutter Shutter
19th-20th century 19th-20th century
wood, metal, fibre wood, metal, fibre
height / width / depth: 46.50 x 33.50 x 3.40 cm; 18.31 x 13.19 x 1.34 in.
Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984 Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984
M84-205

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