Dogon tribe

Dogon Beads

Dogon Beads (also referred to as “Dutch Dogons”) are a type of Trade Bead found in abundance in the town of Bandiagara, Mali. They are so named because of their popularity among the Dogon people of Mali; an ethnic group which makes up over 70% of the Mopti region’s populace.

Blue Dogon Beads

Blue Dogon Beads

Dogons found their way to Mali in the 19th Century aboard merchant ships. Prior to this, they were manufactured in Amsterdamexclusively for decorative use in mosaic gardens in the Zaanstreek District of the city. Spurred by an increased demand for Trade Beads by tribes in Africa, glass-makers began producing the small donut beads in far greater quantities for use as a medium of exchange. Historical records show that the vast majority of Dogon Beads manufactured for export ended up in either Mali, or along the Gold Coast; exchanged with local tribal leaders for favors, slaves, furs and exotic spices.

Unlike many Trade Beads, Dutch Dogons were named after the tribespeople of the Mali region. It is believed this may be due to the fact that Dogon people took it upon themselves to further manipulate the beads by wearing down the sides, so that they would sit more uniformly upon a length of sisal. Early Dogon Beads were quite crudely made. They often featuring a raised area around the perforation hole – the result of a laborious winding process. Most Dogon Beads sold today have been re-shaped by Mali dealers, allowing them to be easily strung upon necklaces and bracelets as spacers.


Padre Beads, Dixon’s Trade Bead Encyclopaedia.

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By Hillary Schwartz on July 6, 2013 | Uncategorized | A comment?
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