DOGON, FEMALE ANCESTOR FIGURE (NOMMO), MALI
Unknown*; Carved wood; On stand: 32" x 7" x 6"; Provenance: Jay C. Leff, Uniontown, Pennsylvania; Sotheby Parke-Bernet, New York, 10-11 October 1975, lot 176A; Allan Stone Collection, New York; Exhibition: Exotic Art from Ancient and Primitive
Sale Price: $9,375
Estimate: $10,000 - $15,000
This Dogon figure from the Jay Leff collection was offered at auction in 2015 but did not sell. Thorough research of this work and its collection history did not find any testing data to confirm either its age or authenticity.. As part of our due diligence Rago commissioned Geochron Labs to conduct an AMS test which yielded a result 620 +/- 20 years BP (1950) or 14th century. This date historically is noteworthy marking the period when the Dogon first arrived in Mali along the Bandiagara Escarpment.
The Dogon people, who inhabit the Bandiagara escarpment in Mali, have a rich history as carvers. Although they live in a relatively isolated location, their art is both distinctive and evocative of the long history of trade and interaction among various peoples in the region. Dogon statuary is inspired by their religious beliefs, especially ancestor veneration, and many objects function to ensure the well-being of villages and families. According to the origin myths of the Dogon, the god Amma created four couples, the Nommos. Nommos are ancestral spirits (sometimes referred to as deities) worshipped by the Dogon tribe of Mali. The word Nommos is derived from a Dogon word meaning, "to make one drink". The Nommos are usually described as amphibious, hermaphroditic, fish-like creatures. They were bringers of culture to mankind. Nommos are often represented in the sculptural art of the Dogon, placed on altars and accorded ritual offerings.
Mali, Collections, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution (africa.si.edu) Mellor, Stephen P. "The Exhibition and Conservation of African Objects: Considering the Nontangible", Art Tribal 7, 2004, no. 9, p. 116