Hermaphrodite Figure Reaching for Dagger


Dogon Peoples
Place Made
Mali: Bandiagara Escarpment
Wood, patina
18 5/8 x 4 1/4 x 5 in (47.3075 x 10.795 x 12.7 cm)
Credit Line
Bequest of Victor K. Kiam
Accession #

Features of this sculpture including the knife worn on the upper arm, grid of scarification on the temples, and stylization of the figure's head highly resemble terra cotta sculptures of the Jenne region, about one hundred miles from the Dogon cliffs.

These similarities may suggest that these Dogon wood sculptures are the works of the Djennenke people, who orignially inhabited Jenne before fleeing to the Bandiagara plateau in the 15th century.

Radiocarbon dating of some of these sculptures indicates they were created around the same time as the Inland Niger Delta terra cottas they resemble. However, some of the wood sculptures, including this one, were found in use in villiages on the plateau in the second half of the 20th century, making it unlikely that all were created several centuries ago.