Dogon granary door lock (Three quarters view)
Three quarters viewDetailMechanismTeli Tellem granariesVideoMaps

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Item : Dogon granary door lock, Picture : Three quarters view (approx. 19 Kbytes)

This small Dogon granary door lock is surmounted by two finely carved ostriches. The chevrons borders, carved on the rectangular central section (representing the pond), symbolize the lebe snake, as well as the fertilizing rain. The central figure represents a tortoise in very abstract way. The tortoise is one of totemic animals of the Dogon. One as well finds it represented on shutters, as on attic posts, doors, or door locks. Aquatic animal related to the fertility of growing, it protects by its symbolic strength the granary against robbers, and generally wards off fate. Note the fine work in the lower part, depicting nommo legs (the spiritual being nommo is present in water and rain). Lebe, part human and part supernatural, metamorphosed into a snake (it is in this form that lebe is believed to exist today), introduced death to the world. He visits the hogon, licks his body, and in so doing gives him and all humanity the strength to live. For the Dogon, lebe is the mainspring of germination and the source of vital life force. Lebe is symbolized both by the chevrons (which are also the representation of water and fertility), and by the ostriches carved atop. The ostrich (ogotanala) is known for its zigzag course when running. This zigzagging is symbolic of lebe because it replicates his movements. These bird's and snake's movements are also similar to those of the nommo as they fell to earth in the form of rain.
Sculpted by the blacksmith of the village for the hogon (spiritual chief) and notables, granary door locks are one of the major elements of Dogon art. Apart from its rarity, its finely construction and its small size, this door lock is the work of a great sculptor.

Origin : Collection Tony Paredis, Anvers, 1990

Object #2949

Origin :

Mali (Bandiagara cliffs area, Teli village)

Type :

Door locks

Ethnic group :


Material :

Wood, remarkably beautiful and aged patina

Size :

H = 7 inches

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