Large lidded cup-shaped vessels like the present sculpture were associated with the Hogon, the spiritual leader of the Dogon community, and were used to hold the food consumed during the investment rituals in which a new Hogon was appointed.
The mounted figure on the lid represents the Hogon. His horse represents strength, wealth and heroic virtue. Another horse supports the bowl a reference to Nommo, a supernatural being that was transformed into a horse in order to carry the ark of the eight founding ancestors to earth.
The present example is particularly remarkable for its striking cubistic style.
Two related vessels, also once owned by J.J. Klejman, are in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (accession number 1979-206-173a-c) and one formerly in the collection of Bela Hein included in the 1935 exhibition, African Negro Art, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
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