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73 of 1,327

Dogon

Granary door

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Object Details

Culture

Dogon

Date

20th century

Medium

Wood

Dimensions

34 1/2 x 18 1/2 inches (87.6 x 47 cm)

Credit Line

Acquired through the Museum Associates Purchase Fund

Object
Number

69.055

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis door was once part of a Dogon granary, a building used to store millet, the st(…)

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONThis door was once part of a Dogon granary, a building used to store millet, the staple food of the Dogon.WHERE WAS IT MADE?The Dogon people live in Mali, on the West coast of Africa.HOW WAS IT MADE?Dogon blacksmiths carve doors and their locks from the hard and durable wood of the toro tree. After carving, the blacksmith etches decorations into the surface using the tip of a heated cutting knife, and blackens certain areas with a hot iron. Finally, he applies a solution made from the seedpods of the bagana (acacia) tree in order to keep the charred surface from peeling.HOW WAS IT USED?Granary doors, placed up high on the granary building, help protect the harvests of the Dogon people. Ancestral beings were carved on the door to ensure protection of what lay on the other side. Because the Dogon live in a region with limited vegetation, they must protect their harvests to ensure their survival.WHY DOES IT LOOK LIKE THIS?Notice the many figures on the door and the two on the lock. Dogon doors often feature a group of figures—they represent the original ancestors of the Dogon, descendants of the primordial, prehuman ancestors, the nommo. Today, because of the international art market and the thieves who sometimes supply, the use of elaborately carved doors and locks has declined. To see Dogon door locks in the Johnson Museum’s collection, search for object numbers 84.012.013 a,b and 91.001.025 in the keyword search box.

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