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Duality in the Dogon and the Yoruba Art and Beliefs Essay

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Updated: Feb 28th, 2021

The lack of information about the Dogon traditions and philosophy is one of the key complexities associated with the definition of the role of the twin concept in the Dogon culture. True, some of the mysteries behind the Dogon concept of existence, art, and people’s role in nature and society have been resolved; particularly, the analysis of numerous Dogon myths has helped reveal that a number of sculptures and other works of art created by the members of the Dogon community represented the dual aspects of the Dogon people origin (Richardson 54).

The issue of where the Dogon culture stems from, however, is not one only concept that the duality of the Dogon artworks embraces. Apart from disclosing the fact that the Dogon culture embraces a number of other influences and is, in fact, a peculiar marriage of several different styles, the art pieces created by the Dogon artists clearly point at a more complex understanding of duality. To be more exact, Dogon artworks evidently.

Indeed, diving into the world of Dogon artworks, one will inevitably stumble upon the evidence of duality as the key concept that the entire culture of Dogon hinges on the concept of duality and the idea of a twin. However, it should be noted that in the Dogon culture, the idea of duality is viewed through the lens of a community instead of considering it from the perspective of an individual. The Yoruba culture, which is also represented by a range of authentic artworks, offers a different way of considering the concept of duality (Ezra 33).

Unlike the Dogon culture, in which a very strong emphasis was put on the community, the Yoruba art is focused on the concept of fertility, maternity, and childbirth. As a result, the “Great earth Mother” is put into the limelight of Yoruba art.

Hence the premises for duality appear; contrasting the human society to the realm of nature, the Yoruba artists anticipate the famous XXI century nature v. nurture conflict. It should be noted, though, that, instead of opposing the human world and the realm of nature, the Yoruba artists preferred to stress the similarities that link the two together. In addition, it is quite remarkable that in the Yoruba culture, the concept of individuality was developed much better than it was in the Dogon culture.

While the artworks created by the latter obviously pointed at the act that every single member of the Dogon community was only a cog in the giant mechanism of society, the Yoruba artists expressed the duality within a human soul (Lawal 25). The curiosity of the Yoruba artists towards the duality within an individual, the so-called confrontation of good and evil in a human being, could be easily spotted when analyzing the way in which the artworks were used.

According to the existing evidence, masks were the most frequently produced pieces of art; more to the point, these masks were used in the course of such ceremonies as masquerades (Dieterlen 37). Seeing how the latter can be interpreted as an attempt to show the two sides of human nature, i.e., the “good” and the ‘evil” ones, it can be assumed that the Yoruba culture was focused on the analysis of human nature than it was preoccupied with the exploration of social relationships like Dogons were.

Works Cited

Dieterlen, Germaine. “Masks and Mythology among the Dogon.” African Arts 22.3 (1989), 34–43.

Ezra, Kate. “The Art of the Dogon.” African Arts 21.4 (1988), 30–33.

Lawal, Babatunde. “Èjìwàpò: The Dialectics of Twoness in Yoruba Art and Culture.” African Arts 41.1 (2008), 24–39.

Richardson, John Adkins. “Speculations on Dogon Iconography.” African Arts 11.1 (1977), 52–57.

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"Duality in the Dogon and the Yoruba Art and Beliefs." IvyPanda, 28 Feb. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/duality-in-the-dogon-and-the-yoruba-art-and-beliefs/.

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IvyPanda. "Duality in the Dogon and the Yoruba Art and Beliefs." February 28, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/duality-in-the-dogon-and-the-yoruba-art-and-beliefs/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Duality in the Dogon and the Yoruba Art and Beliefs." February 28, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/duality-in-the-dogon-and-the-yoruba-art-and-beliefs/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Duality in the Dogon and the Yoruba Art and Beliefs'. 28 February.

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