Dogon door lock (Three quarters view)

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Item : Dogon door lock, Picture : Three quarters view (approx. 22 Kbytes)

This granary lock, with a great variety of iconographic symbols, depicts in abstract way a couple of nommo, two of the eighth ancestors of the mankind (Dogon myth of creation, tihinle). The pointed horn-like structures atop represent both stylised nommo figures and the horns of the antelope (ka). The vertical beam is sculpted with patterns which evoke the fields and growing (terrestrial space and fertility), guarded by a crocodile ayo (see attached pictures). The crocodile represents the animal that once belonged to the ancestor binu serou (the water element). Double-lined chevrons are engraved around the fields, and symbolize water and fertility, and also the spiritual being nommo of binu serou in water and rain. This lock was used by the totemic priest of the binu cult for sealing his granary. The close association of such lock with vital food supplies harvested from binu fields means that it also symbolizes binu serou himself. The binu cult links the living to those early ancestors who are immortal.

Wooden door locks were used on the doors of dwellings, cookhouses, sanctuaries, and on granary shutters. Each lock is given a name in accordance with its message, person, myth, or any anecdote referred to. Door locks were passed down from generation to generation.
18th / 19th century.

Object #4318

Origin :

Mali (Bandiagara cliffs, Ireli)

Type :

Door locks

Ethnic group :


Material :

Wood, metal, natural gray aged patina

Size :

H = 10.6 inches

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