Dogon door lock (Video)
Front viewIreliMechanismMaps

Contact us, expertise, consulting, exhibition, appointment, …

Return to home page.



To view the movie, please click here.
(file size : 2222 Kbytes bytes)



Please read this before viewing the video :

  • Windows XP users may have to right click on the link above and select "Open in a new window" ;
  • under some circumstances with other Windows flavors, we have noticed that Microsoft Media Player needs to be launched twice to obtain the right display quality, according to the quality we have chosen when producing the movie : if you think you get a nasty rendering, click here to send us an e-mail ;
  • if your computer fails to play this movie, you can click here to send us an e-mail with a description of the problem you encounter and your configuration (i.e. running Windows or Mac or Linux or …) : we will try our best to provide you with a new version of this movie that will play without any problem on your computer ;
  • the size of this movie file is 2222 Kbytes : download time can vary considerably, depending on the bandwith of your Internet connection.


This rare and exceptional Dogon door lock depicts a fish, the tail carved atop and the head pointed at the bottom of the lock. To our knowledge, this iconography is unique. The engraved patterns symbolize the scales of the animal. The separated tail, placed atop by the sculptor, is symbolic of the twins' nommo ancestors, and more generally of the duality. In the Dogon myth of the creation of the universe, the fish is also the first living being created by amma : the nommo anagonno.

As the majority of the Dogon figures, door locks were traditionally sculpted by the blacksmiths. Blacksmiths belong to a caste of highest rank, they are at the same time Masters of the fire (work of metal, and knowledge of melting points), and carve the major part of wooden objects. 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 a prized gift for young brides, and passed down from generation to generation. Apart from its extreme rarity, its simple and pure architectonics, this door lock can be considered as a masterpiece of Dogon art.
Probably second part of the 19th century.

If you want to know more about this object or send us your remarks, … click here. Please notify us with this object id: 4345.

Object #4345

Origin :

Mali (Ireli area)

Type :

Door locks

Ethnic group :

Dogon

Material :

Wood, very fine crusty and glossy aged patina

Size :

H = 14.7 inches



All rights reserved for all countries. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced without the written permission of the authors · Copyright © ARTHEOS · e-mail : artheos.eng@artheos.org