Art of the Bamana Blacksmith
by Patrick McNaughton
Door locks are prominent among the sculptures made by Mande smiths. They are mounted on wooden doors, and the narrow horizontal extension slides into a hollowed-out portion of the doorjamb. Wood or iron keys are inserted into the horizontal member (which is also hollow) to move iron pins up out of the locked portion so that the horizontal piece will slide freely back and forth. Frequently the vertical members assume highly abstract shapes of animals, for example, people, or even protective spirits. The patterns of embellishment can be extremely elaborate and satisfying.