Dogon Sacred Ladder – “Soul Ladder” – Mali
Wood, cm. 30,0 high (cm 35,0 on the staff).
Dogon shrine ladders or spirit ladders are for the deceased to climb to reach their ancestors. Binu shrines or sanctuaries are separate structures built in the courtyard of the ginna. Each one contains an altar on which the wooden figures are found, leaning against the wall of the shrine. Small bowls, miniature ladders, iron hooks and bracelets are also placed in binu shrines. Along with pottery and figurines, miniature ladders were placed in a bowl on altars, where Dogon thought to have inherited the souls of specific ancestors would pour sacrificial offerings. In Dogon sacrificial practice, poured libations created a layered patina over the carved wood.
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