African Mythologies

The African Supreme Being and Creation

Are there other versions of the Dogon myth?

There are other versions of this myth. One version, perhaps “corrupted” by colonialism, says that Amma made the stars when he threw bits of earth into the sky. Acting as a deus faber, a craftsman god, he created the sun and the moon using the art of pottery. The sun is like a pot brought to a high heat and glazed with red copper. The moon, heated to a lower degree, was surrounded by white copper. Africans came from the sun, white people from the moon.

The myth goes on to tell how Amma flung some clay into space to make Earth, who lay flat on her back, her genitals being an anthill. When Amma attempted to have intercourse with Earth, her anthill genitals rose up to prevent his passage. Determined to have his way, Amma cut away the rising part of the anthill, thus instigating the practice of female circumcision. Because he had raped Earth, the first child of the union was the wicked jackal. In more intercourse, however, Amma filled Earth with water—the true seed of life—and the result was the spirit children known as the Nummo. Born of Amma’s water, these twins contained the Supreme Being’s essence. Dogons believe all of creation contains this essence. The Nummo are in the grasses, in their weaving, in their ritual drums.


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