My travels in Dogon country in Mali, span over almost three decades (1983 – 2010). After all these years of gathering photographic material, I decided to put my experiences into a book, ‘Dogon – Images & Traditions’, which came out in 2010. The book is now available to download for free in PDF format.
Through field photographs and images of Dogon figures, the book presents a glimpse into the architecture, religion, social organisation, culture, and art that has fascinated the Western world since the early twentieth century. Apart from my own observations, the text is based on the many ethnographic studies that have been conducted in situ. The idea was to place a selection of photos in their cultural and historical context.
I would not have been able to complete this project without the help of my travel companions and friends Ana and Serou Dolo. It is not enough to merely use existing ethnographic texts, whether recent or old, and make them fit with one’s own assumptions. I have spent countless days with friends and colleagues cross-checking and discussing the work of others and analysing topics such as belief, myths, rituals, and religious practices.
Needless to say that many age-old traditions are still relevant today. The impact of the modern world on Dogon culture has not succeeded in making it disappear. Unfortunately, Northern Mali has been plagued by militant jihadism since 2011 and tourism consequently came to a halt. As I can no longer travel the country as before, I asked my friend Serou Dolo to continue documenting all aspects of Dogon life. Today, Serou is shooting videos of masked dance performances, funerary rites, and annual festivities, and I handle the video editing.
Editorial reviews of the book can be found here and you can visit my website for the complete photo archive. Physical copies of the book are sold out but one can find it cheap (between €22 and €30) at various online bookshops.
Born and raised in a family of painters, Huib Blom discovered at an early age non-Western art such as the traditional arts of Africa. An unexpected turn of events brought him to Mali where he landed a job as a sales representative for a trading company. It was an excellent opportunity for combining work with travelling and experiencing other cultures and peoples. In a similar way, he spent a number of years in Nigeria and in the Sudan. Huib Blom's website is a glimpse into his lifelong interests and his book, 'Dogon Images & Traditions, is an attempt to give shape and substance to his wanderings in Dogon country.