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Bambara - the 'Sirius system'

Identifier

011419

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

Symbolic - all of it

A description of the experience

From A Sudanese Sirius System M. GRIAULE and G. DIETERLEN

THE SIRIUS SYSTEM AMONG THE BAMBARA

The Bambara call Sirius 'the star of the foundation', sigi dolo, which is the same term used by the Dogon, and like them they call the star Digitaria fini dolo sa. The expression fa dolo fla 'the two stars of knowledge', is generally attributed to it, because ‘it represents in the sky the invisible body of Faro', conceived as a pair of twins.

This name also implies that the star is the seat of all learning.

The Sirius system is depicted on the chequered blanket called koso wala,'coloured picture', consisting of ten sequences made up of some thirty rectangles coloured alternately indigo and white which symbolize, respectively, darkness and light, earth and sky, and, in Bambara mythology, Pemba and Faro.

Scattered throughout there are twenty-three rectangles with different patterns of small stripes placed in the direction of the thread, alternating the indigo, white and red. Twenty of them represent stars or constellations; the other three respectively represent the rainbow, hailstones and rain.

The fifth sequence in the centre, in which there is no coloured rectangle, symbolizes the Milky Way. The ninth sequence, at one end, contains five black (not indigo) rectangles which point to the 'fifth creation, in darkness, which will occur with the arrival of the waters to come.

Sigi dolo is first depicted alone 'in the cold season and in impurity' by the ninth rectangle (third sequence) ; it is next depicted flanked by fa dolo fla (two red lines) in the fifteenth rectangle (eighth sequence).

In Bambara mythology, Sirius represents Mousso Koroni Koundy, twin of Pemba, maker of the earth, a mythical woman whom he chased through space and was never able to catch. In every respect Mousso Koroni Koundy is comparable to Yasigui.  She inaugurated circumcision and excision and, as a result, Sirius is the star of circumcision, for both Bambara and Dogon alike.

The source of the experience

African tribal

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Milky Way

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Commonsteps

References