Dogon door lock (Three quarters view)
Kani Kombole villageKani Kombole landscapeMechanismMaps

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

This elaborate lock combines the symbolism of the lebe snake (the first hogon, spiritual chief of the Dogon) and what appear to be the nommo twins of amma serou, another early Dogon ancestor. 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 rows of chevrons (which are also the representation of water and fertility), and by the ostriches carved at the bottom. 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.
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. Door locks were a prized gift for young brides, and passed down from generation to generation. 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. Apart from its rarity and its finely construction, this door lock is the work of a great sculptor.
19th century.

Object #4341

Origin :

Mali (Kani Kombole area, district of Bankass)

Type :

Door locks

Ethnic group :


Material :

Wood, metal, dark aged patina

Size :

H = 12.9 inches

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