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Brass Equestrian Ring Cast with Warrior on a Horse
Dogon People, Mali
circa 18th century
height: 7cm, weight: 23g
This heavy ring has been cast with a warrior on a horse. The warrior wears a helmet and the horse wears copious armour.
Horses were introduced to the Western Sudan from North Africa before the tenth century. The animal proved useful for traversing the wide spaces of the West
African savanna, enabling African kings and chiefs to expand their spheres of influence.
Horse and rider statues and images are associated among the Dogon with wealth, and powerful, victorious individuals (Roberts, 1995, p. 114). Rings such as
this example were worn by the hogon, or religious chiefs, and senior blacksmiths who were imbued with mystical powers.
Similar Dogon equestrian rings are illustrated in Leloup (2011, p. 376), Robbins & Nooter (1989, p. 125), Bacquart (1998, p. 61), Roberts (1995, p. 114), and
van Cutsem (2000, p. 61).
The ring has substantial wear with softened contours. It is marked to the inside of the ring with an old collection inventory number. Roberts (1995, p. 144)
observes that such equestrian rings of the Dogon tend to be 'many centuries old'.
Bacquart, J. B., The Tribal Arts of Africa, Thames & Hudson, 1998.
van Cutsem, A., A World of Rings: Africa, Asia, America, Skira, 2000.
Leloup, H., Dogon, Somogy, 2011.
Robbins, W. M. & N. I. Nooter, African Art in American Collections, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.
Roberts, A. F., Animals in African Art: From the Familiar to the Marvelous, Prestel, 1995.
Private Collection, Germany, acquired 1960-81
Inventory no.: 1866
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