Posted in Art & Culture, MALI, Mopti, Travel

Dogon Country [2]

It is one of Africa’s most interesting regions. Dogon people have old and rich cultural heritage: masks, dances, carving and pueblo-like dwellings. Escarpment where Dogon live is 150 km long. Villages to visit are both on the upper and lower level. Between levels there is limited number of country roads (at Dourou at Kani-Kombole) and paths. There are no signs on the paths so sometimes it is not easy to find the way

Mosque at Kanikombole

Minaret of mosque made from mud

The Dogon are a group of people living in the central plateau region of Mali, south of the Niger bend near the city of Bandiagara in the Mopti region. They number just under 800,000. The Dogon are best known for their mythology, their mask dances, wooden sculpture and their architecture. The past century has seen significant changes in the social organization, material culture and beliefs of the Dogon, partly because Dogon country is one of Mali’s major tourist attractions.

A inside view of another mosque at Kanikombole

Another amazing  mosque constructed using mud at Kanikombole

The principal Dogon area is bisected by the Bandiagara Escarpment, a sandstone cliff of up to 500m high, stretching for about 150 km. To the southeast of the cliff, the sandy Séno-Gondo Plains are found, and northwest of the cliff are the Bandiagara Highlands. The current population is at least 450,000.

During dry season you only can see stalks of millet

Those days Dogon people built house on the cliff

Dogon insecurity in the face of historical pressures caused them to locate their villages in defensible positions along the walls of the escarpment. The other factor influencing their choice of settlement location is water. The river is nearby and in the sandstone rock, a rivulet runs at the foot of the cliff at the lowest point of the area during the wet season.

Courtyard of one of the guesthouse in Dogon Country

Millet stored in toguna

Plant in calabash pot at Dogon’s house

The majority of Dogon practice an animist religion, including the ancestral spirit Nommo, with its festivals and Sirian mythology. A significant minority of the Dogon practice Islam, and some have been converted by missionaries to Christianity. The Dogon record their ancestry through a patrilineal system. Each Dogon community, or enlarged family, is headed by one male elder. This chief head is the oldest living son of the ancestor of the local branch of the family

Our host entertained us with millet’s milk

Dogon Village and the escarpment

Mud brick

The Dogon are well-known for their masks which are used in various ceremonies and rituals. The masks are known as inima, and are believed to contain the life force, nyama. There are over 75 different kinds of masks used for ceremonies. Their woodwork is astounding and is recognised by the ‘primitive’ look which has disappeared from much African art. The Dogon use mainly red, black, and white colours, in addition to many varieties of brown developed from the reddish sand-like dirt which covers much of the land.

The roof of place where we were served with lunch

Calabash turned to kitchen utensils and handicrafts

One of Dogon’s traditional game

Smiling Dogon girl with her handicrafts

Dogon’s wooden door

The Dogon maintain an agricultural mode of subsistence, and cultivate pearl millet, sorghum and rice, as well as onions, tobacco, peanuts, and some other vegetables. They also raise sheep, goats and chickens. Grain is stored in granaries.

Colourful Saturday’s evening market

Last shot at Dogon Country before our next  journey to Bankass

Picture of a mosque before we reach Bankass

At Bankass, people gathered to welcome of their President’s visit.  Bankass is the last place to stop before crossing border to Burkina Faso


Posted in Art & Culture, MALI, Mopti, Travel

Dogon Country [1]

Dogon County is the most visited region of Mali. It’s a 250 km long escarpment near the border with Burkina Faso which has been home to the Dogon people since the 13th century. The Dogon speak their own language (and many dialects) and are primarily animist. The entire region is a UNESCO listed heritage site and it is popular to undertake a trek along the bottom of the cliff, walking the few kilometres between villages in the early morning and late afternoon (it’s too hot midday) and staying on the rooftops of village huts at night, and gazing at the moon and stars

Among the tribes of Africa the Dogon are almost unique in that they have preserved and continued to develop their own culture in the midst of invasions, most of which have conquered and altered many of the other cultural groups throughout the continent. As such they remain closest to their ancestral traditions.

We turned off the main road onto a mixture of dusty laterite tracks and smooth roads supported by stone walls with many dipped paved sections, making secure areas to fort running water, when the surrounding land gets flooded in the rainy season

We start our journey from Sévaré to Bandiagara.  Bandiagara is the entrance Dogon country. The geography itself authorises the comparison, the Dogon country occupies a plateau that rises from the chaotic ment Lowlands Macina Sangha up, to break in a peak that dominates several hundred meters of the plain country voltaics This is the famous cliff of Bandiagara.

After Bandiagara, climbing up and down of the escarpment, we stop at Djiguibombo

Villages were mosaics of family houses “Ginna”. Each building clings to any flat, stuck to the cliff, where it has found a natural canopy.

The architecture of houses, granaries millet (round or square), the “toguna” in the thick pile or roof of millet stalks, as well as caves Tellems used today as places of burial, dogon dance, the crowd of markets that are repeated shifted one village to another every five days, composed of images, unforgettable satisfy any lover of the picturesque.

The myth, the comogonie the symbolic thought then create a universe that is woven and is passed on through generations to speak of divine origin.

A visit

– The Dogon universe is a curiosity in the world that must be discovered, to live.

– The Bandiagara “big dish” is the administrative capital and the hyphen between the plain and cliffs;

– Caves Historic Site or déguimbéré EL Hadji Oumar disappeared in 1864, now place of pilgrimage for the followers of the Muslim Brotherhood Tidjani;

– Songo: famous for its rock paintings;

– Sangha: With thirteen villages, is the starting point for all tours in Dogon country; It Sangha that the cliff is most astonishing;

– You can visit beautiful villages such as Banani and 4 quarters, Ireli, Tireli where wrens are most impressive.

– Bankass: gateway to the villages of the cliff-like kani Kombole, Ende, etc.

What a relief with such greenery and a stream in the middle of dryness.  Farmers plants at this valley with onions and other vegetables.  At Anakanda before we climb another escarpment

Bush Taxis, buses and rental cars available every day from Bamako or Mopti.
Routes and distances:

Bamako – Mopti : 640 km

Bamako – Bandiagara : 691 km
Mopti – Sévaré : 12km

Sévaré – Bandiagara : 55 km

Mopti – Bandiagara – Sangha : 120 km
Mopti – Sévaré – Somadougou – Bankass : 121 km