Dogon clay granaries and homes in Songho, Mali.


These are Dogon thatched clay granaries (store rooms) in Songho, Mali. There are two types of Dogon granary, male and female. The larger male granaries (on the left) are used for storing grains. Men distribute the grain, usually millet, for the day's cooking. Male granaries are usually bigger that the female and have more than one door. The female granary (right) is used for storing other foods but also personal things like jewellery, clothing and pottery. Men are NOT allowed to enter a female granary.

Each granary is built from clay supported on rocks. The structures are raised off the ground to keep termites and rodents out. The roof is solid clay with a cap of straw thatch to keep the rain from washing away the clay during the rainy season. The female granary here is shown without its thatch which just sits on top like a hat. Thanks to Ellen Mack for the picture. Here is Ellen's collection of pictures of the Dogon people.

In Dogon culture the basket, house, village and universe are all organised by the same principals.


Dogon baskets (bottom left) are made with a square bottom representing the cardinal points (the directions of north, east, south, and west) while the circular shaped top represents the celestial vault (the apparent surface of the sky). Their homes seen below mixed among the granaries are designed to represent the human body, although it's not easy to see in this picture. Dogon architecture and its living principals served as a guide to post-modern architecture when vernacular architecture was presented by Aldo van Eyck in the book 'Meaning in Architecture'.