Dogon Domolo (thief's staff), Mali
30" long (from front of the nose to the bottom of the staff) by 34" tall (on mount)
mid 20th century

wood, pigment

ex private U
S collection

$1000

These types of staffs, called yo domolo (thief's staff), were held in the hand or worn over the shoulder and are
the emblem of the society of
yona (ritual thieves). The principal activity of the society occurs at the funeral of one
of its members where they steal a domestic animals to be sacrificed and eaten at the funeral ceremony. Each
Dogon clan has a ritual thief.

They are usually carved with with a zigzag motif symbolizing the rain (the mythical ancestor
lebe), and with the
hooked end resembling the head of a horse-like animal with pointed ears. It should be interpreted as a symbol of
the horse that pulled the
nommo celestial ark to water after its fall to earth, or also as the mythical blacksmith
stealing embers of the sun in order to create fire.
For additional detail, click on any photo below to see the higher resolution version of the image.
For additional detail, click on any photo below to see the higher resolution version of the image.