Dogon granary door lock (Three quarters view)
Seno plainMechanismMaps

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

This elaborate lock, richly decorated with bronze facing, is surmounted by a protective ancestor (may be lebe serou) placed opposite with a bird at the bottom. It would be a stork (associated with the rainy season and the fertility of growing) or the representation of the ostrich (ogotanala), allegory of the lebe snake. 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.
Lebe serou, 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 : the Earth. Lebe is also symbolized by the chevrons engraved on the body (which are also the representation of water).
Wooden door locks (ta koguru) 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. Sculpted by the blacksmith of the village for the hogon (spiritual chief) and notables, door locks are one of the major elements of Dogon art.
19th century.

Object #4287

Origin :

Mali (Seno plain, area bordering the Burkina Faso)

Type :

Door locks

Ethnic group :


Material :

Wood, bronze facing, very age-old patina from use

Size :

H = 8.7 inches

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