Notched ladders are used by the Dogon people to access the upper levels of granaries, climb onto the flat roofs of houses, and bridge clefts in cliffs. Though in fact used by many peoples in the southern part of West Africa, these ladders are most commonly associated with the Dogon.
Wooden granary ladders such as the one in the PLU collection are first and foremost utilitarian objects, and have a simple and practical design. The step like notches would have been carved out of a naturally forked tree with an adze, and one can easily see the short, horizontal marks left on the wood from carving. The Y-shape at the top of the ladder is flattened slightly in the back to enhance stability, and the rub of hands and feet on the wood from use gives the steps their smooth and glossy appearance, called patina.
Though intended for everyday use, Dogon granary ladders such as this can be found in many African art collections and are particularly popular for use in interior design because of their simplistic and abstract use of form. This is an ideal African decor piece for any home or office space. Please view the pics as they form part of the description.