Photographs © Hamill Gallery
The Dogon "soleil" above has been vetted as authentic.
Known as "soleils" because of their resemblance to a stylized sun, the braided texture of these pendants reflects their lost-wax technique of fabrication. Actual wax has been braided in forming the wax model from which the pendants were cast. The short stub on all the pieces was where the casting sprue fed the molten bronze or brass into the wold holding. As you know they would shape the wax, cover it first with a thin coat of clay and then surround it with clay. The mold was then heated and then generally turned over so that the molten wax was poured out into a calabash holding water so that the wax could be reused. After the wax was ‘lost’ from the mold the space was then available to receive the molten metal which was poured into the opening where the sprue was. After cooling the now baked clay mold was broken and the caly carefully removed from the bronze / brass casting. This took time and care so as to not break the openwork casting.
The single dark one is interesting in that the surface is one that I have seen before. It is uniform and shows a higher quality of casting. It has 20 well defined ‘rays’ reaching out of the center opening while the other three trade pieces with leather show 16. I tend to believe this one. Why is the surface so consistent - well it could have been placed on a shrine after its owner died or was a burial piece.
With thanks to Dan Mato
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