This very rare door lock depicts a water lizard (kana). The
vertical part forms the body of the animal. It symbolizes the
protective spirit of the family (the guardian spirit,
gné) which protects from robbers. Like the majority of
the Bamana figures, door locks were traditionally sculpted by
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.
In the past, the representation of « prohibited » animals,
like the lizard, was regarded as the sign of a great protective
force. These animals could not be killed, eaten, nor even touched.
Wooden door locks were used on the doors of dwellings, cookhouses,
and sanctuaries. 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
Probably 19th century.
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