Griaule described the Dogon esoteric tradition as a closely-held secret, one that he himself only penetrated after decades of association with the Dogon. This agrees with other cultures I've studied who share key elements of the Dogon cosmology. For example, the Maori in New Zealand share the Dogon concept of the po as a primary component of matter. Elsdon Best wrote in his 1924 book Maori Religion and Mythology:
"[The Maori] taught his ideas of cosmogony by means of a singular allegorical myth showing the origin or growth of matter from chaos, or nothingness, and the gradual evolution of light from darkness. The superior version is to the effect that the Supreme Being brought the universe into being...Two different aspects of all the superior class of myths were taught. One of these was...never disclosed to the bulk of the people, but retained by the higher grade of...experts or priests and by a few others. The other version was that imparted to the people at large, and this, as a rule, was of an inferior nature......In any endeavor to obtain information concerning such matters as we are now discussing it is highly important that the inquirer should have access to the learned men of the community, the few who have been carefully trained in the tribal lore. This calls not only for a knowledge of the native tongue, but also for a long residence among them, ere the men of knowledge acquire sufficient confidence in an alien to induce them to impart such knowledge to him. The ordinary folk of any Maori community know but little of these “higher matters."
One of my problems with Professor Van Beek's work is that, having found no evidence of Griaule's cosmology, he didn't address the reasonable possibility that he (Van Beek), in his relatively quick restudy, was perceived as an outsider by the Dogon priests and had simply failed to penetrate the tradition.
The word Dogon has two meanings in the Dogon language: "To complete the words [of the cosmology]", and "to remain silent". Budge documents the same two meanings ("to bring to completion" and "to feign ignorance") for the ancient name for Egypt, Khem
Post Edited (07-Apr-14 20:36)