Masquerade costume

The Dogon people of Mali perform ceremonial dances dressed in striking masks and costumes. One such dance honours the dead: every morning and evening for up to six days, masqueraders dance in the village and surrounding fields – even on the deceased’s rooftop. Today, the Dogon also perform dances to entertain tourists.


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What is the meaning of the starburst shape at the centre of this masquerade costume and how does it relate to the use of the costume?

responded: Jul 27, 2012

Posted by VIC224Y - Intro to Material Culture Uoft

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The process of making a masquerade costume is extremely time consuming and rewarding. Finding the resources to make a masquerade costume can take up to years depending on the family's status and access to resources. It is speculated that the only way to wear the body of the costume is by putting your legs through the neckline and pulling upwards.The costume seems to be in good condition overall, however the bottom of the body suit is discoloured in areas and the fabric seems to be undone in some places. This may suggest that the wearer of the costume did a variety of movements that involved the lower part of the body coming in contact with the ground. By looking at the costume it seems rough and brittle, however when I gave it a quick touch I was surprised to see how soft it was. Due to the intricate and rich variety of resources used to make this costume I assumed that it would be fairly heavy which could affect the nature of the wearers movements. I was told by one of the curators, that the costume in its entirety is similar to the weight of a snowsuit.

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