The Dogon are a farming people who mainly grow millet. Because of the rocky terrain and the lack of water, however, agricultural possibilities are limited. Recent constructions of dams and wells in the Bandiagara plateau make a garden-culture during the dry season possible. Onions, peppers, carrots, lettuce and cabbage are grown for sale at local markets. Domestic animals include goats, donkeys, some cattle, and chickens. Wild fruits and plants complement the diet and serve as traditional medicine. Hunting is not of economic importance, but brings prestige. Author(s): Text: Brigit Dietz, extract from C. Kleinitz and B. Dietz (2003), Signs of the times, times of the signs: Rock art and circumcision at Songo. Leiden: Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde (digital publication at www.rmv.nl)
Several crafts are practiced by the Dogon. Weaving is typically a male craft. While women spin the cotton, it is the men who are responsible for weaving long bands of cloth. Pottery making is mainly a female craft, it is not, however, practiced in every village (Bedaux 1986). In contrast to the weavers and potters the smiths and leatherworkers form speciality groups (often termed ëcastesí) in Dogon society. The blacksmiths make and repair agricultural tools, jewellery and other metal products. Also, they are responsible for woodwork, such as producing masks and statues. Leatherworkers fabricate bags, sheaths for knifes, saddles, and shoes among other items. In recent years blacksmiths as well as leatherworkers, have become more and more involved in the production and trade of souvenirs. The souvenir-trade has become an important source of income and employment in Mali. Many young Dogon earn their living as guides. In the villages, facilities for tourists have been created, providing a significant source of income for some (van Beek 2001; Lane 1988).
1986 Recherches ethno-archÈologiques sur la poterie des Dogon (Mali). In: Fokkens, H., P. Banga & M. Bierma (eds.), Mens en materiÎle cultuur. Groningen: 117-146.
Beek, W.E.A. van
2001 Dogon. Africa's people of the cliffs. New York.
1988 Tourism and social change among the Dogon. African Arts 21, 4: 66-69.
Date created: 2003-10-18 - Date modified: 2004-03-02