Wednesday, March 19, 2008


This is my interpretation of the Dogon creation myth. I carved the three panels several years ago and have repeated the theme many times over.

In Dogon mythology the world was likened to a granary, divided into compartments to hold the people, animals and seeds that God planned to send down to earth. The first granary came tumbling down from heaven on a rainbow, having been loosened from it's riggings by a bolt of lightening. It crashed to the earth, splitting open on impact and the contents scattered across the land. Seeds began to take root and man settled where the millet grew best. Thus, life on earth began.

There are many more details to this myth which I won't go into here because they would fill a book but I will share some of the background and symbolism in the panels that I've created.

The meaning behind the animals, colours, patterns and symbols differ slightly from country to country in Africa.

~The God on horseback (middle panel) is named Nomo. He is guardian of the earth and there are many stories told about him.

~The horse was the first animal to leave the granary and it signifies power and chieftanship.

~The leopard is equated with the ruler because both are dangerous and powerful.

~The hornbill which is perched on the roof in the end panel signifies the continuance of man. He is also mediator between heaven and earth and he will transfer the dead to the other side.

~The snake encircles the earth to keep the oceans from flowing away or the people from falling off.

~The union between God and Earth produced sacred twins. It is believed that gods are born in pairs.

~The black and white check pattern represents the separation of dark from light, good from evil, ignorance from knowledge and male from female.

~The zig zag patterns signify the path of the ancestors.

There's so much more to each image than meets the eye. African mythology is mysterious and exciting and gives me a reason to be passionate about what I do. 

This dogon granary is being filled with millet. A third person climbed through the top door and is inside stacking the millet. This photograph belongs to Hugo. See more of his photos on Flickr, here.


  1. that granary door is extraordinary, and your carved panels exquisite. thank you for explaining the significance of the various images...the wood has wonderful colour, too. i do enjoy visiting Africa through your pages!

  2. I like it very much!
    Great blog, Jean-Luc Cornec's phoney sheep are my favorites too!

  3. I was thinking the exact same thing as the two previous comments. Your work is beautiful, I loved seeing your art journal as well, wonderful. thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment so I could find yours.

  4. Your panels are beautiful. Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting, as I very much enjoyed visiting your blog. I kept doing double takes as I scrolled through your photos. My husband has a Nigerian Vest, and a Dogon Grainery door too! We both have lots of art books and I collect the same kind of rusty bits and metal pieces. Nice to find a kindred spirit through blogging. I'm going to add your blog to my links list and visit often.

  5. Hello Robyn, your carvings are lovely. It is lovely to see into another mythology through your work and writings :) Meant to say too - I love those Coptic icons...
    All the best to you

  6. Beautiful panels, Robyn...Your painting is as intriguing as your sculptures. Delicious:-)

  7. Ditto, tumbleweed. I get to travel around the world via blogging and love stopping here in Africa with you. Your work is wonderful, it's interesting that so many symbols are universal as I recognised Pacific motifs here as well. Very exciting. And great to hear your 'voice'. Wanna walk along the beach with me today?

  8. Hey Robyn. I am here traveling back in blog to
    e so to speak.

    This is very fascinating. I think I needed it today.

    Thank you