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The Dogon Story
In Response To: Dogon Twins? ()

Charles,

Actually I haven´t read Temple´s book (yet). Right now I´m reading the publications that once set the Dogon thing going: "Conversations with Ogotemmêli" and "The Pale Fox" by Marcel Griaule and Germaine Dieterlen. Very fascinating stuff!

These French ethnologists did their fieldwork among the Dogon people back in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Later anthropologists (like Walter van Beek) in the 1980s and 90s were unable to find any evidence whatsoever of a Dogon native cosmology, and so they began to call into question the remarkable stories obtained from the Dogon elders by the earlier ethnologists several decades earlier. The Dogon elders who once informed Marcel Griaule were simply no longer around to tell their story.

Besides, the Dogon cosmology was not only revealed by the elders of the people but - once understood - could also be seen embedded in the daily traditional life of the Dogon. As Germaine Dieterlen writes: "The smallest everyday object may reveal a conscious reflection of complex cosmogony... Thus for instance African techniques, so poor in appearance, like those of agriculture, weaving and smithing, have a rich, hidden content of significance..."

The remarkable Dogon knowledge about Sirius as a double star is only one detail in their elaborate creation story, which - as shown by Laird Scranton in his recent book - bears a most striking resemblance to modern scientific knowledge, not only in scattered details but as a whole system of knowing.

Also (which is also shown by Scranton) the Dogon myth and cosmology parallels ancient Egyptian mythology and symbolism as reflected in the hieroglyphic writing in remarkable ways. And not only Egyptian, of course, but also the mythos and symbols of many other widespread traditions as well.

Helge

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