Website Category: Traditional Cultural Landscapes
Area: 3,274 km2
Criteria: (v) interaction with the environment (plus a natural criterion)
Location and Values: The Cliff of Bandiagara (Land of the Dogons) is located in a remote part of rural Mali, about 80 km east of Mopti. It is a dramatic sandstone cliff, up to 500 metres high that stretches for about 150 km, with a high plateau above and sandy semi-desert plains below. The cliffs have been settled for at least 2,000 years, although the Dogon people who now occupy the area did not arrive until the 15th century. The Dogon brought their traditional religion and animist beliefs with them and have used the natural shelter of the cliffs to help maintain their cultural identity. Their villages are scattered along the length of the escarpment, some on the plateau and others at the foot of the cliffs, where they have used the shelter of the cliff as the location for their unique mud-built granaries, rock art and ritual purposes. The Dogon are celebrated throughout the world for their close association with nature, which permeates every aspect of their lives, beliefs, dance and other rituals. Carvings of totem animals are an obvious manifestation of this in every village – on doors, window shutters and the structural posts of the traditional communal meeting places known as Togu Na.
Slideshow of the Cliff Of Bandiagara (Land Of The Dogons): The slideshow focuses on the cultural aspects of the Dogon people, illustrating one of their ritual ceremonies, and showing aspects of their unique village architecture with its profusion of carved elements and use of natural materials. The crocodile is especially venerated in Dogon culture and a guarded green-water pool provides sanctuary for a large number of the beasts. For comparison, there are pictures of a village on the plateau, as well as villages at the foot of the cliff. Several pictures show Togu Na traditional meeting places – deeply shaded, with a thick flat roof of straw and ornate pillars. A mud-built mosque is also shown, to illustrate the integration of new ideas into the traditional ways of the Dogon. Additional photographs, focussing on the natural attributes of the site are available here.
Slideshow of the Cliff Of Bandiagara (Land Of The Dogons):
Google Earth View: To view satellite imagery of the Cliff of Bandiagara on Google Earth,click here. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing. The view here is the village of Begnimato which is perched on the top of the cliff, but it is worth taking a few minutes to explore the surroundings by panning in and out, and looking to left and right at high resolution. Image quality is quite variable for different sections of the Cliff, but exploring the area on Google Earth will give you a strong sense of ‘context’.