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The Dogon inhabit the large austere Bandiagara plateau, with most of the villages situated on cliffs to the north and the east. At first hunters, they now cultivate their staple diet millet, and also sorghum, and wheat on the cliff tops, which they have had to convert due to the scarcity of water sources. The Dogon are among African cultures that have remained closest to their ancestral traditions.
One such tradition is building granaries and houses for grain storage. Doors of these granaries are often adorned with impressive carvings of animals or people which serve as invocations of deities or spirits, or as symbols of status. The stored grain is considered "safe" when it is guarded by the ancestors whose images are depicted on granary doors.