Doors depicting Sheikh Ibrahima Falland Sheikh Amadou Bamba Dakar, Senegal painted metal Fowler Museum at UCLA; Museum purchase X99.51.1a,b L2013.3301.024a,b
The image of Sheikh Amadou Bamba (1853–1927), the spiritual leader of millions of Muslims in Senegal (at right), can be found throughout the capital, Dakar, in various locations—from the sides of buildings to doors, such as the one displayed here. The saint was a Sufi or Muslim mystic who resisted French colonial oppression through pacifism. A Senegalese Sufi movement called the Mouride Way is grounded in his teachings. Sheikh Ibrahima Fall (1855–1930) (at left) actively supported and promoted the teachings of Amadou Bamba. His popular nickname, “Lamp,” refers to how Fall became a beacon radiating the enlightenment of the saint.
Door early to mid-1900s Sa’dan Toraja peoples South Sulawesi, Indonesia carved and painted wood Fowler Museum at UCLA; Jerome L. Joss Collection X85.1073 L2013.3301.026
This door provided passage between two rooms in a Toraja lineage house (tongkonan), a massive peaked-roof traditional dwelling. Behind it was the sumbung, a special room in the southwestern part of the house where the dead are laid out before funerals. The buffalo is an auspicious motif in Toraja culture, and the staff between the horns is a symbol of defense or protection for the dwelling.
Door early to mid-1900s Senufo peoples Ivory Coast carved wood Fowler Museum at UCLA; Gift of the Goldenberg Family Trust X2010.16.160 L2013.3301.028
Nearly a million and a half people who live in Ivory Coast, Mali, and Burkina Faso are known collectively as the Senufo. This Senufo relief-carved, pivot-hinged door depicts abstracted animals in three tiers separated by bands of geometric designs. The relief carving creates a shadow that lends the door an illusion of depth. Shrines, including those belonging to Sandogo, the women’s society that parallels the men’s Poro initiation society, were occasionally fitted with finely carved doors.
Domestic compound door late 1800s–early 1900s Igbo peoples Awka village, Nigeria carved wood X83.254 L2013.3301.014
This door comes from the north-central region of Nigeria where compound gateways were highly elaborate. Their size and artistic decoration reflected the grandeur of the male meeting house and thus the status, wealth, and social influence of the family head. Such doors often protected shrines visited by travelers hoping to obtain success and good luck. Highly skilled professional carvers were responsible for crafting doors; those working in Awka were the best known.
Door early to mid-1900s Maroon peoples Suriname carved and painted wood Fowler Museum at UCLA; Gift of William Lloyd Davis and the Rogers Family Foundation X81.1344 L2013.3301.011
The decoration of houses in communities in what is today the country of Suriname, located in northeastern South America, seems to have begun in the second half of the nineteenth century. Carving, painting, and wood inlay were employed in a great variety of decorative techniques. In some areas, whole façades were turned into massive works of art. Painted doors were most fully developed in the eastern region, and openwork or bas-relief carving was exploited in communities in the central region.
Door 1953 Lamidi Fakeye (northwestern Ekiti, Nigeria, b. 1928) and Fayomi (Nigeria, artist’s dates unknown) Nigeria wood Fowler Museum at UCLA; Gift of Dr. Richard and Jan Baum X91.336 L2013.3301.020
This door is one of sixteen carved by Yoruba artists Lamidi Fakeye and Fayomi for the Idena Gate of the palace of the oni, or king, at Ile-Ife in the 1950s. Adesoji Aderemi II, the reigning oni, who was a Christian, commissioned the doors, which are ornamented with Christian iconography. At some point after his death the subsequent oni, Sijuade, replaced them.
Granary façade early to mid-1900s Toraja peoples Tondon Village, Sulawesi, Indonesia carved and painted wood Fowler Museum at UCLA; Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Robert Kuhn X85.855 L2013.3301.015
The importance of a fruitful rice harvest is paramount to the Toraja; therefore, the architecture and decoration of rice granaries are the focus of special attention. Auspicious motifs and patterns that convey wishes for abundance and protection are common themes. Circular sun motifs, buffalo, and chickens grace this granary façade, along with other images of plenty, which are also found on the sacred ceremonial textiles of the Toraja.
Door early 1900s possibly Nigeria carved wood Fowler Museum at UCLA; Gift of the Wellcome Trust X65.1395 L2013.3301.001
The origins of this door remain unknown. A handwritten note written and tacked to the front of the door reads: “strictly private, no admittance.” Another typed note reads: “strictly private room.” The door was displayed in the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924–25. The plank construction of the door is unusual because most traditional African doors are fashioned from a single piece of wood.
Door 1600s–1700s Iran lacquered wood Fowler Museum at UCLA; Transfer from UCLA Research Library X75.864 L2013.3301.004
From the earliest Islamic period, plant motifs and patterns were used to decorate architecture and objects. Artists drew inspiration from different types of plants and flowers throughout the centuries. Plants appear in many different forms, ranging from single motifs to stylized repetitive patterns. Ornamental writing also appears on the decoration of everyday items. A small inscription lies within the floral designs on this door from Iran. Inscriptions are carefully positioned on different parts of the objects they decorate. Their content ranges from poetic verses and pithy proverbs to auspicious blessings.
Doorway panel 1800s Paiwan peoples Taiwan carved wood Fowler Museum at UCLA; H. P. and J. F. Ullman Collection X72.833, X72.835 L2013.3301.002
The Paiwan, an indigenous group on the island of Taiwan, number approximately seventy thousand. The Paiwan have developed a distinctive style of woodcarving. Human figures, which represent ancestors, heroes, and warriors, are common themes. The decorated panel displayed here flanked the entryway of a Paiwan ancestral house. These panels were carved and named for the ranking ancestors of the house.
Granary door early 1900s Toba Batak peoples North Sumatra Province, Sumatra, Indonesia carved wood Fowler Museum at UCLA; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard B. Rogers X79.1047 L2013.3301.010
A lizard is depicted on this Toba Batak door. The Batak universe can be traditionally divided into three realms: the upper world or realm of the gods, the middle world or realm of humans, and the lower world or realm of the mythical dragon.
Tomb door early to mid-1900s century Sa’dan Toraja peoples South Sulawesi, Indonesia carved and painted wood Fowler Museum at UCLA; Jerome L. Joss Collection X86.3132 L2013.3301.018
The Toraja are well known for their elaborate funerary practices. Carefully carved tomb doors are the focus of special attention. This door once closed the entrance to a tomb located high in a cliff in the Toraja region. The figure evokes the ancestors buried in the tomb.