Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Prestige Stool: Figures

15th–20th century
Dogon or Tellem peoples (?)
Wood, sacrificial patina
Height: 15 3/16in. (38.6cm) Diameter: 14in. (35.6cm)
Credit Line:
The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Bequest of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1979
Accession Number:
Not on view
Elaborate ceremonial stools of this kind were owned by the hogon, the supreme religious and political leader in each Dogon community. The design and elaboration of such works draw inspiration from Dogon cosmology. It has been proposed that the very structure of the dual disks of the seat and base may echo the arrangement of heaven and earth. Some sources have identified the four figurative supports as protagonists from the Dogon account of Creation. According to this reading of the imagery, the following characters are visually evoked: a set of twins, direct descendants of Nommo, the first living being; a crocodile, Nommo’s saurian messenger; and two figures framed by two snakes that recall the origins of mortality.
[Henri Kamer, New York and Paris, until 1959]; Nelson A. Rockefeller, New York, 1959, on loan to The Museum of Primitive Art, New York, 1959—1978

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