The Dogon: Treasures of the Desert

This exhibit is a golden opportunity to take a trip around the plateau of Bandiagara, dotted with very interesting cave dwellings. These villages, mostly embedded in the cliff, were the cradle of the Dogon culture.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The Dogon: Treasures of the Desert
Bandiagara is situated in the center of Mali and the north of Burkina Faso. 125 miles long, fifteen square miles in area, there are 289 villages along the tortuous cliff. The arid plateau stretches north of this immense ridge, exposed to the elements. The rock and the artworks were both sculpted by erosion and shaped by human hand and are intimately interwoven with the culture of the Dogon people. 500,000 inhabitants endure in an unforgiving land and a hostile climate and are remarkably well adapted to the environment, taking advantage of the smallest crevices in the rock. They built, reinforced, channeled, and controlled it, after having driven away the Tuareg and the Tellem in the 11th century and resisted aggression time and again: Mossi warriors, Fulani jihadists… Agricultural and hunting people, the Dogon easily overcame natural impediments which would render the place uninhabitable to ordinary mortals, and they created a culture there that has continued to grow and evolve over the course of centuries. 

Sustainable Development Before It Was Hot

The Dogon: Treasures of the Desert
The smallest bit of land is precious, and the Dogon dug themselves into the cliff using a basic model of a living area along with a room for work or storage. Everything is carefully calculated to make it possible to live together in the face of the risks and dangers represented by the exterior. Homes, which also serve as places of refuge, storehouses, places of worship and cemeteries, are incorporated into the cliff, while areas of significant biodiversity (conservation of certain plants with medicinal properties, and animals like crocodiles that play an important role in the protection of underground springs) are preserved.“There is incredible knowledge and expertise here as far as space utilization and construction are concerned. The Dogon country can teach us a lot about urbanism, architecture and, even more important, sustainable development.”  The internet site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Quai d’Orsay, advises travelers to avoid travel in this area because of the bin Laden inspired AQIM jihadists.   Your call, but don’t miss the exhibition.  

Rédigé par Annette Bonnell le Mercredi 1 Juin 2011 à 18:59 | Lu 431 fois

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