Bamana door lock (Front view)
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Item : Bamana door lock, Picture : Front view (approx. 13 Kbytes)


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 generation.
Probably 19th century.

Object #2973

Origin :

Mali

Type :

Door locks

Ethnic group :

Bamana (Bambara)

Material :

Wood, exceptional and aged patina

Size :

H = 26.8 inches

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