A Dagari “policeman”

10 May 2020

This “policeman” forbidding us to pass, with his arm outstretched, is said to come from the Dagara (Dagari in the singular), close relatives of the Lobi, in the Diébougou region, north-western Ghana. Both have very productive blacksmiths. The art of wrought iron is practiced in West Africa with a know-how coupled with a prodigious inspiration.

This altar figure or magic object was probably embedded in the wall of a domestic altar (or inside a hut). Its dynamism and the great flexibility of the body were obtained by the use of an iron rod of round section.The arm stretched out to block the passage to the malignant forces coming from the bush proves, as for him, to be of a great firmness.

Dagari "policeman" figure
19th-20th century. Height 31 cm. Inv. 1009-146
Photo Studio Ferrazzini Bouchet. Musée Barbier-Mueller.