Dogon granary door lock (Three quarters view)
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Item : Dogon granary door lock, Picture : Three quarters view (approx. 18 Kbytes)


This elaborate small lock represents both bird and lebe, the first hogon of the Dogon who was a descendant of the eighth nommo. 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, 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 also symbolized by the chevrons engraved on the lock (which are also the representation of water and fertility of growing).
This remarkable door lock was probably used on the shutter of a granary belonging to the lebe sanctuary. The small dish sculpted in front of the bird would be only of passing interest, but also the symbol of the offertories made to lebe serou.
18th / 19th century.

Object #4315

Origin :

Mali (Bandiagara cliffs area, Teli)

Type :

Door locks

Ethnic group :

Dogon

Material :

Wood, remarkably beautiful and aged patina

Size :

H = 10 inches

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