This tribe is important for those interested in studying religions and cultures of the world since the Dagon ideals are a mixture of unman values and divine religions. In this paper, I will give a brief background, then I will discuss their religions, arts & social norms and the way they run their economics. The reason I combined arts and social norms is because most of their social activities or rituals take form utilizing their artistic nature in carving. Brief History The Dagon people are known as the cliff dwellers.
As they live behind the cliffs of Bandager in the western region of the country Mali. They have been chased out by predators until they found their safe haven behind those cliffs where they lived in omelet isolation from the rest of the world for years, it is believed that they had migrated from the western bank of Niger around 1490 A. D when they were fleeing the Muslims, the French and the Moss people (Hammer, J. ). The Bandager cliffs extends for 200 kilometers in length and 600 meters in height, which makes it very difficult for anyone to reach them.
Their environment is harsh one as they only have access to one main river which is the Yam river. They relied on agriculture for that matter yet still their lives weren’t easy. There are about 700 Dagon villages with each village inhabited by almost 500 to 1000 people, the Dogs were discovered in the asses by an American Missionary [Francis McKinney] and his wife Laura on their horseback ride throughout the African desert, they stayed in that area for 42 years and established churches and schools. (Rainier, C. 2003) Education The education of the Dagon tribe came down from the elders of the tribe who passed down to their children the ritualistic acts and knowledge about hunting, growing food, history of their ancestors, knowledge about the stars and the universe and how to raise a family. They seldom wrote their knowledge fearing someone could eek that knowledge outside their society. Religions The Dogs relied heavily on their religion in their way of life, and as a consequence their temple elders were regarded as leaders, as teachers, and high respect and loyalty must be given to them.
The Dogs believe that their sacred knowledge dates back to early human eras and is only passed down to “chosen” members of the tribes to continue the course of humanity. Knowledge of the creation, of death and of afterlife. In addition, the Dogs are believed to have astronomical relationships with aliens since the beginning of time, and thus much of he rituals are dedicated to communion with those aliens in order to receive their blessings and their guidance (mm. ‘. BBC. Co. UK, 2004).
Our knowledge of the alien mystery date back to 1931 when two French anthropologists Marcel Grille and Germane Dieter started a long-term relationship with the Dagon tribe in order to dig deep in their religious beliefs. Grille and Dieter relied on pictures and sign language for communication. Grille argues in his reports that the Dogs knew about an astronomical fact that was not even discovered by modern science at the mime, which is about the existence of a star named Sirius in the south of Orion constellation.
Dogs believed that extra-terrestrials they called “Gnomons” came and/or coming down from the star Sirius in order to start a civilization on their lands. Due to Grille’s long-term relationship with them, he actually was convinced of the Dagon’s side of the story. But as the BBC writer found, the local peoples’ knowledge about the start is different than that of the religious leader and different than of each other, in which he concludes it is yet another myth we are not quite definite about its origins.
BBC writer quotes “though they do speak about Gigs tool, they disagree completely with each other as to which star is meant; for some it is an invisible star that should rise to announce the Gigs [festival], for another it is Venus that, through a different position, appears as Gigs tool. All agree, however, that they learned about the star from Grille” (wry. BBC. Co. UK , 2004). It is unclear to researchers today on which standpoint to take since no easy communication channels have been established with the Dogs.
On one hand, the Dogs may be correct to believe that he Gnomons from star Sirius will teach them how to build a human civilization, or, as BBC writer implies, Grille is the “terrestrial” and his people are those who will discover them and teach them human civilization. Arts & Social Norms The Dagon tribe places a high value in art and artists. They are known for their carving skills especially for masks and ceramics (Roy, C. ) They and pride themselves with their rituals that has carried on for hundreds of years. In those rituals, they wear masks that are called “anima”.
Each specific ritual has different types of masks and ACH person depending on his role in the ritual wears a different type of mask. The masks are believed to contain life force called “Manama”. Their masks are numerous and believed to be over 65 different types (www. Affricative. Com). The major most important mask is the Filial mask. The Fulfils are the women of another tribe called the Fulfils. The Fulfils chased out the Dogs out of their lands and pushed them behind the cliffs. Therefore the Dogs use the mask as mockery to the Filial women are known of their beauty and appeal (Finley, C. . In terms of other sides of art, the Dogs were heavy producers of ceramics to make their eating bowls and drinking cups. Almost all household supplies were made from ceramics. The ceramic is known to preserve cold liquids stored inside of it. In addition, When reading about social activities of an African tribe, one does not simply picture a weekly football game or a festival with dancing and singing celebrities. One has to keep an open mind of a different mind set of humans that may sound like an alien to a 2013 adult mind.
Much of their lifespan has been spent in fleeing and surviving, it is only natural that heir social nature is aggressive and some may call it deviant from a normal human. The Dogs are divided into different family groups, each family group varying in its tasks and responsibilities towards the tribe as a whole. Firstly, there is the Away group, which is the spiritual group responsible for safekeeping of the temple of the divine knowledge. And secondly, the Lobe group is responsible for the agriculture of the land. It is very common that women are kept in isolation during their menstrual cycles since they were deemed unclean.
Now I will summarize the norms in birth, arraign and families. Traditionally, a man marries between the ages of seventeen and twenty two and a woman are usually engaged at a young age between fifteen and eighteen. After marriage, the couple are only considered husband and wife after they receive their third child, however in present days they accept two parents as a family after their first child. Furthermore, Once a baby is born, a mother goes into seclusion for thirty-five days and spent her time totally with her baby and help from a female companion. In general, Dagon families prosper and seldom end in divorce.
That is due to the heavy influence of the tribe and religion on the importance of a stable offspring for the continuity of the tribe. If problems do persist , the woman can leave her husband provided they had not had any children yet, once a child is born, marriages rarely end in divorce. And if they do, the custody is automatically transferred to the father (wince. Missouri. Dude). Men are permitted to have more than one wife, they are permitted to have up to two wives, most men have only one wife, only the elders and influential leaders usually go for the second wife either for political, or social reasons.
Men have to provide dowry for a woman which is sometimes Jewelry, gifts for her mother, food and supplies for her family. In return, the woman must offer her services to working the land of the husband and his family (wry. Dice. Missouri. Dude) When the father of the family passes away, all his assets automatically pass to his eldest son who is expected to look after his brothers and sisters and all related family members whom the father used to provide for. However, if the deceased were a women, her assets automatically transfer to her oldest daughter who will take care of all the remaining dependents (wry. Dice. Sour. Dude). Children are expected to be obedient to the extreme level, questioning authority and traditions is not taken lightly, children are considered adults at the age of 12 and are expected to fulfill roles in rituals, in the house, in the economy and in the tribe as a whole, and the same applies for females who are expected to baby sit when needed, look after the land of her elders and tend to her husband’s need at all times. Self-expression and use of the mind is not known in the Dagon tribe. Like us, Dagon grandfathers love their grandchildren and is considered one of the most prevalent intimate relationships.
Homosexuality is not found in the Dagon tribe as the relationship between man and woman is considered sacred and divine (wry. Dice. Missouri. Dude). Men value the role of women and women value the role of men. Lots of respect is found in their relationship. Man upholds the woman’s value in her ability and power to create life and that life would not prosper without the crucial role of a woman, so that so men are prohibited from making any contact with their woman during her menstrual cycle and during the first month of child birth. wry. Dice. Missouri. Dude) “Relations between men who are rivals for a woman’s affection will be acrimonious, but standards of harmony are vitally important”(up. 70) a woman may not wear a slip, pants, or any undergarment or she could receive a severe beating form her husband although physical violence is extremely rare. (up. 70) (wince. Missouri. Dude) according to the paper published by the university of Missouri: “Blacksmith and leatherwork groups are not allowed to intermarry because of group identification” (up. 43).
In addition, “The tendency toward marriages within a village structure, called endogamy, is strong, so husband and wife usually have numerous kin relations with each other. (up. 67) (wry. Dice. Missouri. Dude) When a man reaches the age to choose a wife, it is the perfect situation where the man marries his direct first cousin from his mother’s side, they are considered to be closer to his mom in which is grew up with and got used to her family and thus his offspring must be the same as his father’s in order to keep the blood pure.
In early teenage years, boys and girls are separated by sleeping in different dormitories or cottages, once a girl reaches age, she begins visiting boys cottages and affection and gift exchange starts taking place, after the second child is born, they would be noninsured man and wife and the man would be obligated to build his own house, as there were no such thing as real estate or purchasing or leasing a flat on Hollywood boulevard. (wry. Dice. Missouri. Dude) Economy The Dagon society relied on Agriculture of its survival and their main trade was in agriculture harvests.
They had specific rites for each season, the most important one being the Bull rite, which takes place after the first rain in the beginning of the year (Roy, C. ). The Dagon’s main carbohydrate staples were beans, forint and peanuts. For protein, they had Goats, Sheep, Cows and a leaf called baobab. And for weapons, they used bows and arrows made by blacksmiths. The resources in any Economy being Land, Labor and Capital or Equipment, the major resource which is land is divided in a way that has been there for hundreds of years; In the old days, land was transformed within the family.
In the era after the French rule, “individual ownership of property was allowed. A man’s property is inherited by his eldest son who provides support for his brothers and sisters or insures an equal share of the inheritance. Houses may never be sold because the site where they stand belongs to he descendants of the old inhabitants. Fruit trees may be sold but previous owner reserves ownership of the field where they are planted for his own use” (wry. Dice. Missouri. Du) “All fields within view of the village belong to the oldest men in town as part and parcel of their position as elders off lineage. So for a young man it is imperative to have an old relative alive: he can cultivate close to the village. ” (wry. Dice. Missouri. Dude) The basic division of land is the field. “It’s cultivated in squares, eight cubits a side, surrounded by embankments of earth. To sum it all up, the Dogs are of a unique style when compared to all the African tribes spread throughout Africa.
The first reason is that they were the last ones to be discovered due to their deep isolation in behind the 200 KM Bandaging Cliffs. And secondly, due to their unique language unspoken by any other humans on earth which makes it hard to communicate and learn their knowledge, secrets and even build a trade partnership with them. Also, they are considered unique because no other known civilization decided to not document any of their knowledge, they armorial relied on elders’ knowledge and being transferred to chosen ones within the tribe through talking only.
The Dogs shared their secrets with French journalists on numerous occasions after interviewing and testing those Journalists many times for many years until they became trusted, and those Journalists’ point of views may have become biased due to their prolonged partnerships. It is hard to be concrete about the spiritual knowledge of the Dogs because their history is violent and they are in no mental condition to start thinking logically and observing facts rather than myths.