Dogon granary door lock (Front view)
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Item : Dogon granary door lock, Picture : Front view (approx. 24 Kbytes)

This granary door lock represents a single human-like figure, probably a nommo or the ancestor binu serou. The originality of the body lies in the square openwork design in the center of the vertical beam, engraved with double-lined chevrons around it. Chevrons patterns symbolize water and fertility, and also the spiritual being nommo of binu serou in water and rain. This lock was probably used by the totemic priest of the binu cult for sealing his granary, or by a blacksmith. 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.

Like the majority of wooden sculptures, door locks were traditionally sculpted by blacksmiths. They belong to a caste of highest rank, they are at the same time Masters of fire (work of metal), and carve the major part of wooden objects. 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.
Early 19th century.

Object #4286

Origin :

Mali (Bandiagara cliffs, Banani village)

Type :

Door locks

Ethnic group :


Material :

Wood, very age-old patina from use

Size :

H = 9.6 inches

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