Cover image for Dogon : Africa's people of the cliffs
Dogon : Africa's people of the cliffs
Hollyman, Stephenie, 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Harry N. Abrams, [2001]

Physical Description:
176 pages : color illustrations, color maps ; 31 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DT551.45.D64 H66 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize
DT551.45.D64 H66 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

On Order



In a remote area of Mali, West Africa, the people called Dogon survive today as they have for thousands of years: in mud-brick houses below the Bandiagara cliffs. In the sandy plains, they grow the millet and sorghum they need to live. This arresting photographic portrait allows us privileged access to their traditional way of life, remarkably maintained today even after extensive contact with Western civilization.Stephenie Hollyman's intimate pictures show a tightly knit, cooperative society engaging in daily activities and sacred rituals: planting and harvesting crops, creating crafts, and performing varied religious ceremonies, most notably the masked dances with which the Dogon celebrate the honored burial of their dead. Walter van Beek's engaging narrative displays the authority and observant eye of an anthropologist who has long lived among the people he writes about. This astonishing volume will find a rapt audience among readers of Abrams' acclaimed African Ceremonies and other popularbooks on vanishing African tribal customs.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The Dogon live in a remote area of the west African country of Mali, in mud-brick houses below the breathtaking Bandiagara cliffs, which shielded them from nineteenth-century slave traders, and twentieth-century Western culture as well. This stunning photographic book demonstrates how geography, with a 125-mile range of cliffs, has protected and dictated the culture of the intensely spiritual Dogon. The focus is on the people of the cliff face in their villages built beside steep-walled gorges that are accessible only on foot. Photojournalist Hollyman and anthropologist van Beek detail the Dogon's skill as agriculturists in growing sorghum, millet, corn, and onions, and as skilled artisans famous for the masks they make. Hollyman and van Beek highlight the Dogon orientation toward communal labor, collective action, and group responsibility, and also how they maintain their culture and interact with the outside world. This beautiful accounting and showing of this distinctive people's history and culture will enthrall many, especially anthropologically minded readers interested in how non-Western cultures maintain their traditions. --Vanessa Bush

Library Journal Review

Several books are available on the culture and crafts of the Dogon people, but this successful collaboration between a photographer and an anthropologist is both informative for the anthropologist and enjoyable for the lay reader. Van Beek (cultural anthropology, Univ. of Utrecht, the Netherlands; The Kapsiki of the Mandara Hills) offers an easy-to-digest yet comprehensive ethnographic sketch of these residents of the West African nation of Mali. The daily deliberations of the Dogon; their kinship structures, rituals, and social networks; the historical circumstances surrounding their settlement; and the survival strategies developed for a region of scarce water resources, encroaching desert, and arid lands all receive detailed attention. Van Beek's observations and explanations are embellished with lively images by accomplished photographer Hollyman (We the Homeless). Recommended especially for anthropology and African studies collections though certainly not out of place in any large public library. Edward K. Owusu-Ansah, Murray State Univ. Lib., KY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.