Old Dogon Door
- Tribe: Dogon
- Origin: Mali
- Approx Age: Late 19th - Early 20th century
- Materials: Wood, Metal
- Dimensions cm: 151 tall to top of the peg x 65 wide
- Ref. Number: 0970
An extremely weathered and heavily patinated Dogon Door complete with lock. Unlike some Dogon Doors this one is somewhat plain but this does not take away any of its appeal and would be used more so as a door for a house/hut rather than being a protection door on the entrance to a granary/grain store. The door lock, very light in weight due to heavy insect invasion but has since been treated thus being a slightly different colour to the door itself. The bottom peg of the door has been worn/broken away and looking at the heavy use this door displays this supports this information. Metal staples have been used to fasten the two pieces of extremely heavy wood together to create the door. Displaying an encrusted patina. On the outer edge of this door there appears to be a number of carved shapes for what purpose we are unsure.
Provenance: Ex Seward Kennedy Collection.
Although this particular Dogon Door is quite plain most of the information available generally refers to the more heavily carved door/doors.
A striking design feature of Dogon architecture are the carved shutters, doors and doorways which portray ancestral figures to protect the people and property inside. They have become A striking design feature of Dogon architecture are the carved shutters, doors and doorways which portray ancestral figures to protect the people and property inside. They have become collector’s specialist items in recent years and authentic ones of some age are fast disappearing into private collections.
Door locks found on granary doors give us a wonderful insight into the abstract and symbolic use of animal and figural imagery. The representational carvings of ancestors serve to keep spirits at bay and offer protection from worldly and unworldly sources of harm.
The Dogon people of Mali are known the world over for their creation of Dogon Doors. The doors have various uses in their society; first as the physical closure to their granaries. Secondly they are created and exchanged as gifts for birthdays, marriages, tokens of luck and rites of passage bequests. Thirdly, when used as a part of the architecture, as a door or shutter, in a private abode, through the use of symbols they are used to describe the occupation of the person or that persons persona or status in the village. Lastly it served as a sign to taxpayers, letting them know which form of payment was accepted in the adjoining building. The symbolic styling of the doors can vary. Pairs of breasts, representing femininity and fertility are usually found. Village dancers wearing the famed rabbit eared Walu mask or the tall Kanaga headdress typically underline the bottom of the door. The Kanaga masks are worn by members of the Awa Society who dance on the roof of the deceased in order to lead the soul (nyama) to its resting place as well as defending the survivors from the harm a wandering soul might inflict upon them. A herringbone pattern can often be found running down the sides of the door representing the vibration of water and light. The door latch is surmounted by one or two larger figures who are members of the famed founding primordial couple. Other themes include but are not limited to village scenes, warriors on horseback, animal figures, gecko lizards which represent luck, large crocodiles which denote power and rows and rows of raised Dogon ancestor figures that all resemble each other.