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Shoulder crook (yo domolo)

c. 1935
Overall: 62.3 cm (24 1/2 in.)
This artwork is known to be under copyright.

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The yo domolo is a ceremonial version of the everyday L-shaped staff (domolo) that a Dogon man carries.


This crook (yo domolo) commemorates a divine theft: a protohuman called a Nommo stole embers with a similar crook, bringing fire and ironworking to earth. Using yo domolo, the Yona society (“ritual thieves”) reenacts this event following members’ deaths. Blacksmithing and fire are central to Dogon life; blacksmiths also carve. Each yo domolo they make links to a specific clan and can be visually interpreted several ways. This crook’s open “mouth” shows where the Nommo held the stolen embers, while its length echoes their earthbound journey down a rainbow. The zig-zags may be the expanding universe, thieving snakes, or even the keys robbers use.
Shoulder crook (yo domolo)

Shoulder crook (yo domolo)

c. 1935

Africa, West Africa, Mali, Dogon-style blacksmith-carver

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