The Dogon seem to possess advanced astronomical knowledge. The Dogon's system reveals precise knowledge of cosmological facts only known since the development of modern astronomy. They believe that the brightest star in the sky, Sirius (sigi tolo or 'star of the Sigui'), has two companion stars, pō tolo (the Digitaria star), and ęmmę ya tolo, (the female Sorghum star). They also appear to know that Sirius was part of a binary star system, whose second star, Sirius B (po tolo), which is imposible to see in the sky. And that it took 50 years to complete its orbit. In addition to their knowledge of Sirius B, the Dogon mythology includes Saturn's rings, and Jupiter's four major moons. They have four calendars, for the Sun, Moon, Sirius, and Venus, and have long known that planets orbit the sun.
According to the Dogon, the highest creator or sky god is Amma. Nommo was the first living creature created by the sky god Amma. Nommo can be a proper name of an individual, or can refer to the group of spirits as a whole. The Nommo are ancestral spirits (sometimes referred to as deities). The word Nommos is derived from a Dogon word meaning, "to make one drink," The Nommos are usually described as fish-like creatures. Folk art depictions of the Nommos show creatures with humanoid upper torsos, legs/feet, and a fish-like lower torso and tail. The Nommos are also referred to as “Masters of the Water”, “the Monitors”, and "the Teachers”.
|Photograph copyright Chris Rainier, National Geographic Society|
The Dogon reportedly related a belief that the Nommos were inhabitants of a world circling the star Sirius. The Nommos descended from the sky in a vessel accompanied by fire and thunder. After arriving, the Nommos created a reservoir of water and subsequently dove into the water. The Dogon legends state that the Nommos required a watery environment in which to live. The Nommo divided his (or their) body among men to feed them. It was as if the universe "had drunk of his body," This is not only literally meant as drinking, but is also about Nommos giving all his life principles to human beings." The Nommo was crucified on a tree, but was resurrected and returned to his home world. Dogon legend has it that he will return in the future to revisit the Earth in a human form.