Bò Dágá (Door Lock)

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:

Today, the doors of the Dogon are secured with metal padlocks — save for a few still adorned with the head of a lizard or the Islamic symbol of the crescent moon.

But this was not always the case. In years gone by, the doors to the thatched granaries storing each family’s supply of millet would be shut tight with carved wooden bolt locks.

These bò dágá (called anuan in some sources) — meaning 'grabbed on the door' — were also often found securing houses and shrines. Each individual lock was given a name depending on the message, personage, or myth that its carving conveyed.

Often the doors on which these locks hung were equally decorative, featuring ornate carvings, packed with symbolic imagery.

Distinguishing Features

  • Made of three pieces
    • Vertical beam
    • Cross beam that slides into cut-out rectangle in back of vertical beam
    • Wooden toothbrush-like key that slides into hollowed part of crossbeam
  • Vertical beam often decorated with animal or human figures and geometric patterns in low relief
  • Ancestral spirits often represented by male and female pair carved in relief on the door lock on on top of lock

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