African doors have been always created with qualities reserved for sculptures of ritual or religious importance; African doors show an impressive range of styles and designs all worthy of critical appreciation and with dramatic sense of age and timeless history. These doors were always made with figures and sacred images that communicate symbolic messages invoking spirits on duties of protection.
These doors served different purposes such as on houses, granaries, entrance to the palaces; their main motive was to offer protection to the people and their goods.
Different designs were carved; some of them were animals, like lizards, snakes, crocodiles, while others were in form of breasts and human figures, and these symbols scared away thieves because they were considered to be their ancestral spirits.
According to the native history, the granary door was considered to be a representation of the beating of the human heart; just as blood in the human heart pumps in and out to sustain life, so is the harvest stored in the granaries.
The designs had different meanings:
- human figures represented the ancestors who brought them to the earth and give them protection
- breasts represented health
- maternity figures represented the good harvest
- lizards were said to invoke the spirits for protection
- snakes were said to represent soil fertility
- crocodiles related to the animal spirit, who was considered powerful and defended the people and their properties against robbery.