Carved posts supported a West African assembly place | Arts

The Togu na is crucial public gathering place for the Dogon folks of Mali in West Africa. These low constructions, supported by three rows of wood posts and topped with a thick roof of millet stalks, are designed to supply shade and a relaxing surroundings, encouraging seated discussions.

The wood posts, produced from the sturdy kile wooden (Prosopis africana), are among the many most spectacular works of conventional African artwork, adorned with carvings that depict women and men with exaggerated genitalia, symbolizing fertility and numerous gender roles in Dogon society. These posts are celebrated globally, featured in galleries, non-public collections and museums — like this one, on view on the New Orleans Museum of Artwork.

The Togu na serves as a venue for village elders to debate neighborhood points and customary legislation. Its low top, solely 4-5 toes, discourages standing and posturing, selling calm and respectful dialogue. Past its creative worth, the Togu na represents a practice of wholesome public discourse, emphasizing mutual respect, empathy and a superb humorousness.

Particularly throughout this nationwide election season, the tales from Dogon’s Togu na remind us of the significance of participating in spirited debates whereas respecting differing viewpoints, whatever the platform.

Simeneh Gebremariam is curatorial and applications assistant at NOMA.

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