Lot 149
  • 149

Pair of Dogon Male and Female Zoomorphic Figures, Mali

15,000 - 25,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • wood, metal


Julius Carlebach, New York
Jay C. Leff, Uniontown, Pennsylvania, acquired from the above on February 12, 1957
Sotheby's, New York, May 5, 1997, lot 98, consigned by the above
Liz Claiborne and Arthur Ortenberg, New York, acquired at the above auction


Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Exotic Art from Ancient and Primitive Civilizations: the Collection of Jay C. Leff, October 15 1959 - January 3, 1960
Museum of Primitive Art, New York, African Sculpture from the Collection of Jay C. Leff, November 24 , 1964 - February 7, 1965
Carnegie Institute, Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, The Art of Black Africa: Collection of Jay C. Leff, October 24, 1969 - January 18, 1970


Walter A. Fairservis, Jr., Exotic Art from Ancient and Primitive Civilizations: Collection of Jay C. Leff, Pittsburgh, 1959, p. 31, no. 175
Carnegie Institute, The Art of Black Africa: Collection of Jay C. Leff, Pittsburgh, 1969, no. 2

Catalogue Note

Dogon statuary is linked to "a vast body of myths pertaining to the creation of the universe, the struggle between order and disorder, and the place of mankind within it" (Ezra 1988: 16).  The iconography of the dog is linked with the historic Dogon migration, as recounted by Jean Laude (1973: pl. 54): "When the migrating Dogon arrived at the edge of the Bandiagara cliff, they came into conflict with the Tellem, who jealously concealed the location of wells and water holes.  Exhausted by their journey and parched by the drought, the Dogon saw one of their dogs come running with wet paws.  They occupied the watering place discovered by the animial and, thus refreshed, were able to dislodge the Tellem from the Cliff.  Depictions of dogs commemorate this important event in Dogon history. [...]  According to Desplagnes, who made his observations in 1907, there was a dog clan in the Dogon country, and the animal was ritually sacrificed, in all likelihood over his sculptured image."  The Leff pair of Dogon dogs are particularly remarkable for their preservation as they were originally conceived, as a male and female couple.  They are the only such couple known.