Photographs © Hamill Gallery
The Dogon "soleil" above has been vetted as made for the market.
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 three with leather straps were made for the trade. Badly cast and similar in surface and leatherwork. This grouping of three pieces were cast and afterwards darkened by an accretion of smoke and soot that where broken off the surface show shiny metal. Not a natural process of darkening through time and wear. Also the leather strapping is also similar and really would not have functioned to hold the pieces around the neck which was usually done by braided length of leather, like a thin cord. Look as though they come out of the same work shop.
With thanks to Dan Mato
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