Mali, Africa

18th century, ex collection Seward Kennedy

Called miniature ladders, these works replicate the form of the full-size versions, yet their purpose is spiritual rather than utilitarian. Along with pottery and figurines, miniature ladders were placed on interior domestic altars, where Dogon thought to have inherited the souls of specific ancestors would pour sacrificial offerings. The Dogon believe the ladders facilitate a spirit’s ability to reach his ancestor.

In Dogon sacrificial practice, poured libations created a layered patina over the carved wood. The variety of patinas on these ladders, most likely consisting of mixtures of animal blood, minerals from the surrounding landscape, and millet gruel, indicates that the ladders were originally located on different altars

Price on request (two objects sold)