Bamana door lock (Front view)

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Item : Bamana door lock, Picture : Front view (approx. 14 Kbytes)

This very rare door lock depicts a crocodile (bama). The vertical part forms the body of the animal. It symbolizes the protective spirit of the family (the guardian spirit) which protects from robbers. In the past, the representation of « prohibited » or dangerous animals, like the crocodile, was regarded as the sign of a great protective force. These animals could not be killed, eaten, nor even touched.
Like the majority of the Bamana figures, door locks (called konbalabala) were traditionally sculpted by the blacksmiths. Blacksmiths belong to a caste of highest rank, they are at the same time Masters of fire (work of metal, and knowledge of melting points), and carve the major part of wooden objects. Wooden door locks 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.
18th / 19th century or earlier.

Object #2165

Origin :

Mali (Yanfoilla area)

Type :

Door locks

Ethnic group :

Bamana (Bambara)

Material :

Wood, deep brown patina

Size :

H = 25.5 inches

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