By Victoria Rovine
University of Florida (formerly University of Iowa)

Burkina Faso; Mossi artist. Door. Photo by Christopher D. Roy.

Door locks of this type, found in many parts of West Africa, are North African in origin, likely moving into sub-Saharan Africa with Muslim traders and clerics. As these forms were adopted by sub-Saharan artists, they were carved in the artistic styles of each region, changed to suit local tastes. Locks are used to secure the doors and windows of homes and granaries, operating in a manner similar to a deadbolt, with metal pins in specific patterns set into the sliding bar with corresponding patterns on the key. When locked, one end of the horizontal bar slides into a hole in the doorjamb.