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Short description: Spiritual leader in Dogon villages
A Hogon, in Mali

A hogon is a spiritual leader in a Dogon village who plays an important role in Dogon religion.

The life of a hogon

A hogon house

A hogon is a religious figure as well as a temporal authority;[1] 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.[2]


A Hogon cup (Ogo banya), used in particular during the Hogon's enthronement ceremony. Musée du quai Branly, Paris, France.

The hogon has a key role in village rituals and in ensuring fertility[3] and germination.[4]

The hogon is central to a wide range of fertility and marriage rituals, which are closely related to Dogon origin myths.[5]

The hogon may conduct rituals in the Sanctuaire de Binou, a special building the door of which is blocked with rocks.[6]

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.[7]

See also


  1. Imperato, Pascal James (1978). Dogon cliff dwellers: the art of Mali's mountain people. L. Kahan Gallery/African Art. pp. 12. 
  2. "hogon | African religious leader | Britannica" (in en). 
  3. Bonnefoy, Yves (1993). American, African, and Old European mythologies. University of Chicago Press. pp. 123. ISBN 978-0-226-06457-4. 
  4. 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). 
  5. Dieterlen (1956). "Parenté et Mariage Chez les Dogon". Africa 26 (2): 107–148. doi:10.2307/1156839. 
  6. "hogon | African religious leader | Britannica" (in en). 
  7. Imperato, Pascal James (2001). Legends, sorcerers, and enchanted lizards: door locks of the Bamana of Mali. Africana Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8419-1414-8.