Bamana door lock (Front view)
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Item : Bamana door lock, Picture : Front view (approx. 15 Kbytes)


This very rare door lock, with an exceptional patinated wood, depicts a crocodile (bama) or the kana (water lizard). The crocodile is also a symbol of the kore initiation society, and the guardian of faro's waters. The vertical part forms the body of the animal, which the tail is slightly curved. 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 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 #2991

Origin :

Mali (Mali southern area, bordering on Ivory Coast)

Type :

Door locks

Ethnic group :

Bamana (Bambara)

Material :

Wood, exceptional and aged patina, glossy in places

Size :

H = 20.2 inches

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