Print this page

Observations placeholder

Ogotommeli - Twins



Type of spiritual experience

A description of the experience

Conversations with Ogotommeli (An Introduction to Dogon Religious ideas) – Professor Marcel Griaule

He was anxious to find out what Ogotemmeli had to say about something which seemed to him to be highly significant – namely the special earthenware reserved for twins.  These object have a peculiar shape; each consists of two shallow round cups, five to six centimetres in diameter, joined together at the edge like a wide open oystershell.  There was something of this sort in the celestial granary at the top of the pyramid of superimposed jars placed at the point of intersection of the lower interior partitions…

‘The two cups joined side by side’ said Ogotemmeli ‘are like twins of the same shape and size’.

The role assigned to twins [did] not astonish [Griaule] ; he had already encountered several examples of the cult of twin births in African countries.  The ram with the calabash sun on its head, alternating with a bull similarly equipped had first excited his curiosity. Rams with spheres on their heads carved on the rocks of North Africa had already caused much ink to flow; some said they came from Egypt, others said it was the other way round.  Many had identified the circle between the horns with the Sun….

The story of the scorpion,….  Twins, ram, bull, scorpion – he thought of the Zodiac…

One day it occurred to [Griaule] to wonder whether the twelve signs were not to be found in the celestial granary which the smith had brought down along the rainbow.  The granary was connected with the stellar system, it was itself composed of sky, moon and sun and each of its stairways was associated with a cardinal point and a group of stars.

. the animal called nayi was not a crab but a lizard, he had a place next to the scorpion… the lion had a good place on the western stairway at the ninth step, ….. the virgin was there only in the form of the female calabash on the head of the ram or bull, it was also noteworthy that the unicorn …. had a curious counterpart in the ram whose second sex organ grew between his horns and fertilised the virgin calabash.  For a long time the scales seemed to be lacking, but the study of twins had provided a ray of light; the double cup with equal values representing two interchangeable values was a symbol of the scales.  The archer was evident in the smith who stole the sun, shot his arrows not only in self defence but also to provided for his descent…. As for the fishes, they were there hanging from the navel of their twins, men and women on the northern stairway

The source of the experience


Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image