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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Legend of the little people continued

 Legend of the little people continued

The Tellem

By the remains that were found the Tellem people are believed to have been Hobbit like in appearance and stature and lived in caves and tunnels carved out of the sandstone cliffs also building structures on in the side of the cliffs much like their Native American counterparts the Navaho Pueblos. 

The Tellem were the people who inhabited the Bandiagara Escarpment in Mali. The Dogon people migrated to the escarpment region around the 14th century. The Tellem were pygmies or "small red people" who built dwellings around the base of the escarpment as well as directly into the cliff-face. Many of these structures are still visible in the area. Some Tellem buildings—most notably the granaries—are still in use by the Dogon, although generally Dogon villages are at the bottom or top of the escarpment, where water gathers and farming is possible.

They have disappeared from the area either by assimilation into the Dogon culture or some other unknown reason. It is thought by some in Mali today that the Tellem possessed the power of flight.

The Bandiagara Escarpment is an escarpment in the Dogon country of Mali. The sandstone cliff rises about 500 meters above the lower sandy flats to the south. It has a length of approximately 150 kilometers. The area of the escarpment is inhabited today by the Dogon people. Before the Dogon, the escarpment was inhabited by the Tellem and Toloy. Many structures remain from the Tellem. The Bandiagara Escarpment was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1989.

The Cliffs of Bandiagara are a sandstone chain ranging from south to northeast over 200 km and extending to the Grandamia massif. The end of the massif is marked by the Hombori Tondo, Mali's highest peak at 1,115 meters. Because of its archaeological, ethnological and geological characteristics, the entire site is one of the most imposing in West Africa.


The cave-dwelling Tellem, an ethnic group later pushed out by the arrival of the Dogons, used to live in the slopes of the cliff. The Tellem legacy is evident in the caves they carved into the cliffs so that they could bury their dead high up, far from the frequent flash floods of the area. Dozens of villages are located along the cliff, such as Kani Bonzon. It was near to this village that the Dogons arrived in the 14th century, and from there they spread over the plateau, the escarpment and the plains of the Seno-Gondo.

According to local oral history, the Dogon were relatively undisturbed by the French colonial powers due to the existence of a series of natural tunnels weaving through the Bandiagara Escarpment, which only the Dogon know about, and thus were able to use these caves to surprise and drive away any aggressors.

The Bandiagara Escarpment today

A partial view of the Bandiagara Escarpment

Today, local guides can take tourist groups on trips along the escarpment to visit the Dogon villages. A series of trails runs along the cliffs, and hostels in each village provide food and lodging. The host villages receive income from the hostels and the tourist tax. Large increases in tourism to the area are expected, as a new highway is constructed, putting pressure on local, traditional cultures.

[1] In addition, The Independent reports that looting of ancient artifacts is widespread in the area, which is poorly policed.[2] To call attention to the issue of uncontrolled tourist visitation, the World Monuments Fund included the Bandiagara Escarpment in the 2004 World Monuments Watch. In 2005, WMF provided a grant from American Express to the Mission Culturelle de Bandiagara for the development of a management plan.[3] Beyond the protection of traditional buildings, the management plan calls for the regulation of new construction through the establishment of strict building guidelines such as those that govern new development in historic districts around the world.

 Cliff side pueblos new mexico

The Dogon People

The Dogon are an ethnic group living in the central plateau region of the country of Mali, in Western Africa, south of the Niger bend, near the city of Bandiagara, in the Mopti region. The population numbers between 400,000 and 800,000.[1] The Dogon are best known for their religious traditions, their mask dances, wooden sculpture and their architecture. The past century has seen significant changes in the social organization, material culture and beliefs of the Dogon, partly because Dogon country is one of Mali's major tourist attractions.

Geography and history[edit]

The Bandiagara Cliffs

The principal Dogon area is bisected by the Bandiagara Escarpment, a sandstone cliff of up to 500m (1,640 ft) high, stretching about 150 km (90 miles). To the southeast of the cliff, the sandy Séno-Gondo Plains are found, and northwest of the cliff are the Bandiagara Highlands. Historically, Dogon villages were established in the Bandiagara area in consequence of the Dogon people's collective refusal to convert to Islam a thousand years ago.[2] Dogon insecurity in the face of these historical pressures caused them to locate their villages in defensible positions along the walls of the escarpment. The other factor influencing their choice of settlement location is water. The Niger River is nearby and in the sandstone rock, a rivulet runs at the foot of the cliff at the lowest point of the area during the wet season.

Among the Dogon several oral traditions have been recorded as to their origin. One relates to their coming from Mande, located to the southwest of the Bandiagara escarpment near Bamako. According to this oral tradition, the first Dogon settlement was established in the extreme southwest of the escarpment at Kani-Na.[3][4] Over time the Dogon moved north along the escarpment, arriving in the Sanga region in the 15th century.[5] Other oral histories place the origin of the Dogon to the west beyond the river Niger, or tell of the Dogon coming from the east. It is likely that the Dogon of today combine several groups of diverse origin who migrated to escape Islamization.[6]

It is often difficult to distinguish between pre-Muslim practices and later practices, though Islamic law classified them and many other ethnicities of the region, (Mossi, Gurma, Bobo, Busa and the Yoruba) as being within the non-canon dar al-harb and consequently fair game for slave raids organized by merchants.[7] As the growth of cities increased the demand for slaves across the region of West Africa also increased. The historical pattern has included the murder of indigenous males by Islamic raiders and enslavement of women and children

No history has ever been really established, what you read here is from my own research and piecing together. Thank you for your interest 

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