Hunter's Shirt, Donson Dlokiw



Hunter's Shirt, Donson Dlokiw


Ceremonial costume, multimedia, textile


late 19th-early 20th Century


West Africa, Mali


Cloth, leather, shells, animal claws, horns
35 11/16 x 44 in. (90.7 x 111.8 cm)

Object Number



The ability to survive in a dangerous environment is what distinguishes hunters among the Mande-speaking peoples. Their shirts bespoke their ability not only to hunt in the earthly realm of the wilderness but also to transform organic matter into extraordinary materials with which to master the supernatural realm. Made of handwoven cloth stained brown with an herbal solution, the hunter's shirt is a surface upon which objects from the wild - canine teeth, raptor claws, antelope horns, and strips of leather - are sewn and transformed into objects that ally the hunter's powers with the strength, cunning, and quickness of dangerous animals who might be his adversaries. So, too, numerous small tooled leather amulets, which hold Koranic verses, were added to the shirt to protect him. Only the wearer knew the meaning of each of the shirt's elements, for they "contain" pieces of the secret personal knowledge he acquired. As the hunter matured and his power (nyama) grew, the components of his shirt augmented to make it more visually intricate and symbolically dynamic, to the point where its appearance approached the Mande concept of dibi, meaning obscurity, ambiguity, and potentially devastating strength.

Credit Line

Ex coll. William S. Arnett


The Art of Collecting: Recent Acquisitions at the Michael C. Carlos Museum, Michael C. Carlos Museum, November 8, 1997 - January 4, 1998|
Divine Intervention: African Art and Religion, Michael C. Carlos Museum, February 5 - December 4, 2011
MCCM Permanent Collection Gallery, August 6, 2016 - Present
MCCM Newsletter, Spring/Summer 2011.|
Michael C. Carlos Museum: Highlights of the Collections (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2011), 92-93.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2008.
This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.

On View



“Hunter's Shirt, Donson Dlokiw,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed February 19, 2019,

Social Bookmarking


Copy the code below into your web page