The Dogon tribe in Western Mali is one of the oldest tribes in Eastern Africa.
They are known for their traditional mask dances and statue carving.
Dogon people are good in math and astronomy. They discovered without any form of telescopes that the star Sirius has a double star.
There religion is based on two major principles. Honour the spirits and the ancestors and the believe in Ama, the Creator. The mask on the picture is called Kanaga and the dance simbolizes Ama creating the world with Heaven (two upper ‘arms’) and the Earth (two ‘legs’). This story varies from village to village.
This is the most popular and sacred mask they have. Every man has to carv his own Kanaga.
Along with traditional dances, ceremonies include honouring the ancestors and spirits, offerings and animal sacrifices.
Their tradition is in severe danger because of the Islam. Most of the inhabitants in Mali are Islamic and with the pressure of more and more extremists rising, they have to abandon their Culture.
Dogon use tourism to keep -as they call it- the masks alive. When they stop using a mask it dies with the spirit in it.
A number of different tribes have lived scattered across the highland plateau for 1000 years, in small agrarian clans, isolated by the harsh terrain and divided by language, custom and tradition. The legendary Asaro Mudmen first met with the Western world in the middle of the 20th century. Legend has it that the Mudmen were forced to flee from an enemy into the Asaro River where they waited until dusk to escape. The enemy saw them rise from the banks covered in mud and thought they were spirits. The Asaro still apply mud and masks to keep the illusion alive and terrify other tribes.
The mudmen could not cover their faces with mud because the people of Papua New Guinea thought that the mud from the Asaro river was poisonous. So instead of covering their faces with this alleged poison, they made masks from pebbles that they heated and water from the waterfall, with unusual designs such as long or very short ears either going down to the chin or sticking up at the top, long joined eyebrows attached to the top of the ears, horns and sideways mouths.