Publication Information The main body of the Publication Information page contains all the metadata that HRAF holds for that document.
Author: Author's name as listed in Library of Congress records
Granka, Sherri L.
The souls of the Dogons
Published By: Original publisher
Paris: Institut d'Ethnologie. 1941 [i.e. 1942]. HRAF MS:
i, 307 p. [original: viii, 314 p.] ill., maps
By line: Author's name as appearing in the actual publication
HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.:
Human Relations Area Files, 2000. Computer File
Culture: Culture name from the Outline of World Cultures (OWC) with the alphanumberic OWC identifier in parenthesis.
Subjects: Document-level OCM identifiers given by the anthropology subject indexers at HRAF
Spirits and gods (776);
Prayers and sacrifices (782);
Cult of the dead (769);
Abstract: Brief abstract written by HRAF anthropologists who have done the subject indexing for the document
The present work is part of a series of studies utilizing
the various ethnographic documents collected in the French Sudan during the Griaule
missions of 1931-1939, and concentrating on the Dogon of the Cliffs of Bandiagara. During
the course of these expeditions a thorough analysis was made of the religious institutions
of the Dogon with particular reference to the concept of nyama, the vital force within all
animate and sometimes inanimate things. This study delves into the intricacies of the nyama
concepts - its acquisition, relationship to the persona, to the world of the ancestors, and
perhaps, most important of all, to the kikinu say, the soul. In the first chapter of this
work the author summarizes various myths, already published in ‘Masques Dogons’, (see 8:
Griaule, this file), as a framework and guide to Dogon religious concepts which she
believes is necessary for an understanding of the cults described in the text. This is
followed by a brief history of the migration of the Dogon into the area. With the location
of the Dogon in time and place established, Dieterlen proceeds to discuss the notion of the
individual soul. In chapter 2 she attempts to show how the individual's “personality” links
him to supernatural powers and to the ancestors described in the myths, while at the same
time tieing him to the land, to towns, and to the present-day society. Chapter 3 of this
work treats death and the human reactions to death involving the separation of the soul
from the body and its sojourn thereafter. Despite the departure of the soul, contact is
maintained with the living through the office of the nani or respondent, a lineal
descendant, who offers personal worship to the soul which the Dogon believe will help it to
travel the course it must take in the afterworld. The various ramifications of this
relationship are discussed in chapter 4. Chapter 5 deals primarily with the altars on which
sacrifices are made to the ancestors, and on the nature of the sacrifices themselves. In
chapter 6, the discussion turns to specific cases of souls belonging to deceased
individuals with specific conditions that modify their status, while chapter 7 deals
specifically with the souls of the priests of the various religious cults. The conclusion,
pp. 277-281, summarizes the present state of knowledge on the Dogon concept of the soul and
suggests new prospective inquiries which hopefully would contribute further explanations
necessary for the understanding of the Dogon.
Document Number: HRAF's in-house numbering system derived from the processing order of documents
Document ID: HRAF's unique document identifier. The first part is the OWC identifier and the second part is the document number in three digits.
Document Type: May include journal articles, essays, collections of essays, monographs or chapters/parts of monographs.
Language: Language that the document is written in
English translation from French
Translation of: Les âmes des Dogons|The original
French text is not included Translated for the HRAF files by Sherri L. Granka
Field Date: The date the researcher conducted the fieldwork or archival research that produced the document
Evaluation: In this alphanumeric code, the first part designates the type of person writing the document, e.g. Ethnographer, Missionary, Archaeologist, Folklorist, Linguist, Indigene, and so on. The second part is a ranking done by HRAF anthropologists based on the strength of the source material on a scale of 1 to 5, as follows: 1 - poor; 2 - fair; 3 - good, useful data, but not uniformly excellent; 4 - excellent secondary data; 5 - excellent primary data
Analyst: The HRAF anthropologist who subject indexed the document and prepared other materials for the eHRAF culture/tradition collection.
John Beierle ; 1987
Coverage Date: The date or dates that the information in the document pertains to (often not the same as the field date).
Coverage Place: Location of the research culture or tradition (often a smaller unit such as a band, community, or archaeological site)
Sanga area, Bandiagara Circle, Mopti Region,
LCSH: Library of Congress Subject Headings
Dogons (African people)