A Hogon is a spiritual leader in a Dogon village.

Dogon people

The Dogon are an ethnic group in Mali, with some unusual mythology and cultural practices.[1] Most Dogon villages are situated around the arid Bandiagara Escarpment in central Mali.

The life of a hogon

A hogon is a religious figure as well as a temporal authority;[2] the hogon may be hereditary or may be chosen from among the village elders—custom varies from place to place. The hogon is always a man. After being chosen, a hogon must pass through several months without washing or shaving. After initiation, he wears a red cap, and a pearl bracelet. Hogon live alone and should be celibate, but a village girl may act as a maid. Nobody should touch the hogon.[3]

It has become customary for tourists to bring small gifts of money or kola nuts for the hogon when visiting a village.[4]


The Hogon has a key role in village rituals and in ensuring fertility[5] and germination.[6]

The Hogon is central to a wide range of fertility and marriage rituals, which are closely related to Dogon origin myths.[7]

The Hogon may conduct rituals in the Sanctuaire de Binou, a special building whose door is blocked with rocks.[8]

Creation myth

According to legend, the first hogon, Lebe, was descended from a nommo. He was eaten by another nommo, and their spirits merged; the nommo vomited out a new Lebe (part human and part spiritual), plus copious liquid which shaped the landscape.[9][10]

See also


  1. "Dogon | people". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-06-16.
  2. Imperato, Pascal James (1978). Dogon cliff dwellers: the art of Mali's mountain people. L. Kahan Gallery/African Art. p. 12.
  3. Velton, Ross (2009). Mali. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 195. ISBN 978-1-84162-218-7.
  4. Velton, Ross (2009). Mali. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 204. ISBN 978-1-84162-218-7.
  5. Bonnefoy, Yves (1993). American, African, and Old European mythologies. University of Chicago Press. pp. 123. ISBN 978-0-226-06457-4.
  6. Heusch, Luc de (June 1997). "Les mécanismes symboliques de la royauté sacre: à la re-découverte de Frazer". Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (2).
  7. Dieterlen (1956). "Parenté et Mariage Chez les Dogon". Africa. 26 (2): 107–148. doi:10.2307/1156839.
  8. The rough guide to West Africa. Rough Guides. 2003. pp. 391. ISBN 978-1-84353-118-0.
  9. "Dogon". Retrieved 26 March 2011.
  10. Imperato, Pascal James (2001). Legends, sorcerers, and enchanted lizards: door locks of the Bamana of Mali. Africana Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8419-1414-8.
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