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General Facts on the Dogon

appellations | geography/administration | language | demography | ethnological history | social organization | religion | life cycle | body | material culture

APPELLATIONSFurther details
A1 Usual anthropological designation Dogon
A2 Other names and spellings used Dogon, Dogo, Dogom, Habe, Habbe, Kado, Tombo
A3 Self-designation Dogon
A4 Official name in countries of residence Dogon
A5 Human being (indigenous designation)
A6 Man (indigenous designation)
A7 Woman (indigenous designation)

B1 Countries of residence Mali, Burkina FasoThe Dogon settlement area
B2 Continent/Areas Africa
B3 Localisation in these countries none
B4 Main towns inhabited people
B5 Climate citizen
B6 Biogeographical landscape none
B7 Official ethnic regions none
B8 Status of ethnic group Mission Culturelle de Bandiagara: state institution run with indigenous participation
B9 Civil status of the individual none
B10 Representation in state institutions none
B11 State protection of culture none
B12 Endemic diseases
B13 Compulsory medical examination and/or vaccination
B14 Cultural and political associations
B15 International representation
B16 International programs targeting this population (aid, cultural revival etc.)
B17 Diasporas

LANGUAGEFurther details
C1 Language name Dogon (and individual names for the strongly differing Dogon dialects)
C2 Linguistic group Not securely classified, as it has affinities to both Mande and Gur languages; could be described as an isolate
C3 Official standard dialect/language Dogon
C4 Writing used (contemporary)
C5 Writing used (in history) none
C6 UNESCO status of language none
C7 Number of native speakers of their own language 400.000-800.000
C8 Percentage of native speakers of their own language nearly 100%
C9 Number of indigenous people who learned their own language later in life nearly 0%
C10 Percentage of indigenous people who learned their own language later in life nearly 100%
C11 Predominant language in use Dogon; Peul, Bambara and French usd to a far lesser extent
C12 Ratio of people literate in own language nearly 0%
C13 Education in own language no (few children attend school, if they do lessons are in Frech, Bambara or Arab)
C14 Language courses in teaching institutions none
C15 Medias in own language Bible translation
C16 Own contemporary literature (in own language) none
C17 Own contemporary literature (in other language) none

DEMOGRAPHYFurther details
D1 Reference of census used 400.000-800.000Demography
D2 Population
D3 Rough population density (persons/km2)
D4 Birth rate
D5 Mortality rate
D6 Growth rate Varies from region to region; there is a high proportion of Peul living in the north-east of the Dogon settlement area
D7 Life expectancy
D8 Fertility
D9 Percentage of native population in residential areas
D10 Literacy rate

E1 First European contact Krause (1860s)
E2 First western ethnographic description Louis Desplagnes (1907)
E3 First other ethnographic description Leo Frobenius (1911)
E4 First major ethnographic collection Mission Dakar-Djibouti (1931-1933), e.g. Griaule (1938)
E5 Date of establishment of a permanent administration 1893: establishment of French colonial rule
E6 Date of compulsory schooling
E7 Date of independence or autonomy from colonial power

F1 Main subdivisions in society Modern migration of young labour force into cities
F2 Seasonal variations in social morphology Clan, lineage, age-groupsSocial organisation
F3 Residential mobility type Sedentary
F4 Basic dwelling unit Extended family
F5 Basic production unit Extended family
F6 Basic consumption unit Extended family
F7 Basic appropriation unit
F8 Land ownership Iroquois
F9 Kinship terminology type Patrilineal
F10 Descent rule Varies strongly from 4 to 10
F11 Genealogical memory (in number of generations) Ideally matrilateral cross-cousin
F12 Marriage rule Clan, some speciality groups (e.g. blacksmiths)
F13 Exogamous unit
F14 Relative status of marriage partners
F15 Extension of marriage prohibition Yes, up to four spouses
F16 Polygamy Virilocal, patrilocal (formally wives only joined their husband's residence unit after the birth of their first child)
F17 Residence type after marriage Residence pattern is congruent with descent rules
F18 Relation between descent and residence Formally sanctioned
F19 Pre-marital formal agreement between marriage partners (betrothal)
F20 Marriage arrangements
F21 Kinship degree or category of contribution to marriage arrangement Divorce and re-marriage exist
F22 Divorce - spouse separation Castes, age
F23 Social sanction of adultery Yes, social status rises with age and knowledge
F24 Social stratification Professional speciality groups, such as blacksmiths or griots
F25 Relevance of age for social status Village chiefs, traditional religious leader (hogon), today: marabout
F26 Specialists
F27 Political leadership No armed conflicts since imposition of French rule; formerly, depending on the scale of the conflict, clans or villages, or even village conglomerates could form solidary units
F28 Political unit Ancient beliefs reinforced by elders, today also Quran (Coran)
F29 Solidarity unit in armed conflict
F30 Morality and law agencies

RELIGIONFurther details
G1 Main religious system Today Islam, formerly and depending on region still today traditional Dogon religionTraditional beliefs of the Dogon
G2 Religious organizations or institutions Hogon-ship
G3 New or emerging religious systems Islam spreads rapidly, Christian missions have been in place since the 1920s, albeit with little success
G4 Other religious influences in the past
G5 Seasonal rituals
G6 Main other yearly rituals
G7 Other than yearly rituals (cyclical or periodical)
G8 Types of ritualists (religious specialists)
G9 Mode of access to ritual functions and responsibilities
G10 Specific costume for ritualists (specify)
G11 Required items for ritual actions
G12 Musical instruments played during religious rituals
G13 Types of singing performance in religious rituals
G14 Types of dance performance in religious rituals
G15 Type of places for religious rituals

LIFE CYCLEFurther details
H1 Type of ritual prescription for the mother, at birth
H2 Ritual prescription for the father, at birth
H3 Ritualized treatments of the new-born
H4 Ritualized treatment of the remains at birth (after-birth)
H5 Delivery place Home, also hospital
H6 Puberty initiation (male) Today circumcision, but this may be a relatively new development of the 19th (?) centuryCircumcision
H7 Puberty initiation (female) Today excision, but this may be a relatively new development of the 20th century
H8 Ritual expressions of wedding
H9 Average age at marriage (male)
H10 Average age at marriage (female)
H11 Rites of passage between age classes Initiation, e.g. circumcision, excision
H12 Funeral body disposal In burial caves and cemeteries
H13 Funeral body position Extended

BODYFurther details
I1 Regular body treatment
I2 Usual resting/sitting position squatting
I3 Delivery position
I4 Permanent bodily alterations formerly scarifications
I5 Homosexuality
I6 Pre-marital sexuality (male)
I7 Pre-marital sexuality (female)

J1 Subsistence type Sedentary agriculturalists and horticulturalistsEconomy
J2 Biogeographical landscape Semi-arid Bandiagara sandstone plateau, steep Bandiagara cliffs and sandy Seno-Gondo plainThe Dogon settlement area
J3 Rough population density (persons/km2) Diverse in plateau, plain and escarpmentDemography
J4 Dwelling type Rectangular mudbrick or stone/mud-covered buildings
J5 Staple food Millet
J6 Gender specialisation of tasks Yes, e.g. women act as potters and spin cotton, men act as weavers
J7 Monetary or other exchange system/material CFA
J8 Mutually exclusive exhange spheres
J9 Means of transportation By foot; roads are currently built to open up the area
J10 Emblematic cultural item for general market Wooden sculpture, e.g. statuettes and masks
J11 Vital imports Salt, millet, industrial goods, medecines
J12 Specialisation in interethnic relations onions
J13 Principal types of musical instruments Drums, bells, flutes, luthes, rattles
J14 Main type of dance performance Mask dances at the occasion of funerary festivals, such as the nyou yama, dama, or the sigui
J15 Cultural representations for general public Adapted mask dances, which comprise the spectacular masks and dance steps of the traditional mask dances