Musician with a Drum


Dogon Peoples
Place Made
Mali: Bandiagara Escarpment
Wood, iron
24 3/8 x 6 1/4 x 6 5/8 in (61.9125 x 15.875 x 16.8275 cm)
Credit Line
Bequest of Victor K. Kiam
Accession #

Figurative Dogon scultpures are used as altar pieces, serving as intermediaries between people and spirits during prayer and sacrifice. This wooden sculpture depicts a figure standing, clasping the sides of a barba drum. This single-headed spherical drum is made from a large calabash and hangs in front of the body, struck with the flat of the hands.

This type of drum is played at sowing rituals and at funerals, beating short repeated rhythms, each with its own meaning and purpose, accompanied by solo singers and a choir. Drums like the one depicted here are arguably the most important and spiritually charged of all Dogon instruments

The sylization of this piece, including the almond-shaped eyes, wide nostrils, projecting pursed mouth, and bearded jaw reflect a distinctive style seen in many Dogon sculptures.