The Nuna are one of the Gurunsi peoples who live in southern Burkina Faso between the Black and Red Volta Rivers. They originally emigrated from northern Ghana to their present location, where they farm, hunt, fish and trade. They live in densely packed villages in which narrow streets and winding alleys separate lineages, and large neighborhoods are composed of several separate clans.
Like other groups in Burkina Faso, the Nuna have highly developed art traditions, including the making of household objects. Nuna artists carve wood doors with locks, such as this example, for their granaries, shrines and homes. The production of these wood doors and locks was once widespread throughout West Africa. Today they are rare, as modern metal hardware and padlocks replace them. Because of its relatively large size, incised geometric designs and well-carved rectangular lock, this door was probably meant for a shrine or a home. Granary doors were much smaller.
Rectangular wood panel door with three registers of incised linear patterns, side pivot hinges and convex rectangular wood lock with cross piece.
Werner Muensterberger, New York, acquired in Bouaké, Côte d'Ivoire, 1979-80 to 1997
General exhibition, National Museum of Africa Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., February 26, 2007-January 21, 2015
Galerie Mon Steyaert, Brussels, June 1989
Arts d'Afrique Noire. 1989. Galerie Mon Steyaert. Exhibition note (June), p. 70, no. 43.
National Museum of African Art. 1999. Selected Works from the Collection of the National Museum of African Art. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, p. 28, no. 11.