dogon 'konbalabala' door lock
material: wood, metal.
size: 13.25" (33.7 cm)
provenance: the 24 collection - florida, usa
note: mounted on custom display stand
Known as Konbalabala, the Bamana and Dogon peoples used wooden bolt locks (ta koguru) to secure the doors to houses, interior rooms, granaries, and some shrines. Door locks are made by the blacksmith from the toro tree (ficus congensis) which is well known for its durable quality and which gets even more resilient with the loss of moisture. Created to be functional with spiritual references, these door locks have a strong sculptural appeal for Western art audiences, even when viewers do not know their original cultural context.
Of abstracted geometric forms, they come in a variety of animal and human configurations, some of which are semi naturalistic. The door lock is but a part of the whole security mechanism which includes the door itself. The third component of the door lock is a metal key which is often removed by Western collectors, possibly because of the contrasting conflict of aesthetics.
These doors sometimes belonged important regulatory societies like the Komo. In addition to being installed in granaries, the locks were also sometimes installed on the doors of older children with many children as protection from sorcerers. In spite of the influence Western culture and Islamization, Bamana and Dogon parents and relatives of brides still present her with a door and sculptured lock on her wedding. The incised designs have a powerful aesthetic presence and speak of the deep human need to manipulate and decorate even the most mundane pieces of daily life.