chapter  2
16 Pages

‘Making and Doing’ Dogon Microcosmology: Some Ethnographic, Methodological, and Conceptual Background

The Dogon region of Mali covers some 55,000 km2 and comprises a cluster of 700 patrilineal villages with a population of over 250,000 (Bedaux & van der Waals 2004, 7). The villagers of Tiréli, whose family name is Saye (Say) and may today number about 1,500, rely on a self-subsistence economy. Dogon men and women grow millet, the staple crop, and various subsidiary cereals, such as sorghum (Chapter 5). In addition women grow pulses, hibiscus, and groundnuts, from May to November. Onions, which were introduced during colonial times as a cash crop, are grown from December to March to be mainly sold in town. In Tiréli, Catholicism and Animism, the original worldview system (ɔmɔlɔ; Chapter 3) are the main religions practised, with Islam followed to a much lesser extent. The oldest man of the village is the highest authority of Tiréli (ámiru), and the quarter of Teri-Ku Dama is ruled by the council of elders (àna kɔ˜se). They deal with the social and political issues of the quarter and of the village; they also run ritual ceremonies, set up the agrarian calendar, administer the mask society, and forecast the weather.