Dogon horse and rider, Mali
late 19th/early 20th century*
private Midwest collection, originally acquired in the 80's
*The overall figure dates from the late 19th or early 20th century but there has been previous damage and
restoration. The horse has had the front legs, head and tail restored. The head and the tail are the original wood
and those pieces were reattached. Both of the front legs have been previously restored with newer pieces of
wood. The restorations weren't expertly done, but I decided to leave them as is because I enjoyed having the
figure in its complete form.
Dogon figures showing horses and riders depict the prestige and power surrounding an animal that has been
associated with these qualities since it was introduced into West Africa more than a thousand years ago.
In Dogon society, horses were generally considered a luxury reserved for rich or powerful people. Horses occur in
Dogon beliefs about the creation of the world and the horse and rider figures are seen as a symbol of a
The horse and rider figures theme is a common one found throughout the art of the Western Sudan, and is often
seen in sculpture of the Senufo and Bamana who neighbor the Dogon.