African, Bamana peoples, Mali
20th century, 1950–2000
Object Place: Mali
Overall: 41 x 34 x 7 cm (16 1/8 x 13 3/8 x 2 3/4 in.) Overall Width (body only): 7 cm (2 3/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Wood and metal
Not On View
This lock’s carving alludes to Bamana esoteric knowledge, specifically Komo, a power association that imparts its secret knowledge to its male members. The rectangular, elongated body stands on two legs, and triangles adorn its surface. Today such locks have essentially disappeared in Bamana country, replaced by foreign-made types. Many Bamana have converted to Islam and the visual associations of the older locks with the traditional way of the Bamana are no longer appreciated. As a result many locks were discarded or sold in the art market.
small white labels on back of body BC: "112(124)", "2"; on back of lock arm: "112(124)", "No. 13 Bambara Doorlock, Mali"; red plastic label on back of lock arm: "124"; fragment of white label with red border at TC on back, too faded to be legible.
1960s, acquired in Bamako, Mali by Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)
Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart