H x W x D: 7.6 x 2.2 x 3.8 cm (3 x 7/8 x 1 1/2 in.)
Early to mid-20th century
Given the rarity of horses among the Dogon peoples, the association of equestrian rings with the hogon who is the lineage head and priest, is not obvious. Generally Dogon history suggests that they retreated to their cliff homes to get away from mounted enemies, perhaps suggested by the man's spear and round shield. The Dogon would have been aware of wood equestrian figures among their predecessors, the Tellem and possibly other traditions in ceramic and bronze in the inland Niger Delta region. A 1987 field interview with a diviner in Yougouna recounted how a Dogon man mounted a horse on a dare and was carried off to the Mossi peoples. They gave him stirrups and harness and when the man returned home, he became the ruler.
Cast copper alloy ring with equestrian figure holding a short wide spear and a flat spiral shield. The animal has a wide ringed collar or mane and a single rein. The ring has a braided pattern and overall wear, with the facial features worn off.
Arnold and Joanne Syrop, New York, -- to 1983
History, Context, Materials: Selections from the Permanent Collection of the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., November 12, 1985-January 5, 1986
Robbins, Warren M. and Nancy Ingram Nooter. 1989. African Art in American Collections. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, p. 531, no. 1418.