Ward of malignant spirits and witches with your vintage doorknocker

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Has your house got the classical ring knocker or crescent moon knocker? It doesn’t really matter, as that knocker has one purpose only: to request entrance into the house. First impressions have a lasting effect when entering ones home, they might be important. Doorknockers can be powerfully symbolic and always express artistic beauty.

Known through history as symbols of hospitality, good luck or just put on doors to ward off bad spirits, whether in the shape of human heads (based on Greek statues standing in front of houses) or mythical beasts, doorknockers remain more popular than a normal doorbell (certainly lion heads, preferred by the English, symbolizing power, strength and courage), even nowadays. Those having a ring or a hammer, have a much larger surface of plate, than those having a human figure or animal head. I’m still searching for my lion head doorknocker, hiding somewhere in my cupboards and waiting to be found.

It wasn’t until the Middle Ages that doorknockers became a fanciful house accessory. It took till the Renaissance to create the more ornate ones, delicate shapes and figures, constructed of pounded iron for normal people or of brass, when you belonged to the rich.

Who doesn’t want a “good luck” omen/charm with magical or healing properties at their door. Our “flowery” one is one of these. But I’m sure you wonder about the other one, you think: “I have seen this head before”.

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Meet Medusa, known in Greek mythology because of her serpent hair and for turning people into stone, a doorknocker often used by the ancient Italians. Why would one want to put her on their front door… well she symbolized (already in the 6th century B.C.) the triumph of good over evil. Even the doorknocker Medusa’s version depicting a beautiful young woman with normal hair, is still believed to be very powerful in protecting your home from evil. Admit it’s more attractive than what French sculptor Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, made of her in 1925, he created a doorknocker with Medusa’s severed head clutched in Perseus’ hand.

Scrooge in Dickens’ famous “Christmas Carol” mentioned doorknockers:

I shall love it as long as I live. I scarcely ever looked at it before. What an honest expression it has in its face. It is a wonderful knocker.

Don’t be fooled by internet sellers to pay a huge amount of money for them, how will you know you have a genuine antique item in the house or just a reproduction?

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Look at the plate and see whether it is forged to the ring or the flat plate, if so, you own a genuine antique one. Both ours are vintage reproductions, as the knocker is put on the plate with screws and a bar.

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Take a step back in time: iron was at first used in the construction of knockers (expensive), artistic and beautiful. Later, brass came into favor and it has since remained the principal knocker material, as no better substitute has been found. Polished, a brass knocker adds to the decorative attractiveness of any door. Sometimes when the brass is still hot, the manufacturer puts oil on it (nowadays they use chemicals) to create the black stained effect as you can see:

brass-doorknocker

A woman’s hand is often seen as well, as a doorknocker, no matter which religion claims the hand belongs to (Fatima, Miriam/Hamsa, sister of Moses or Mary), the hand offers protection from evil!

There are male and female hands, each producing a different sound. In Islamic countries it is considered inappropriate for a woman to open the door to a man, so visitors could use the knocker according to their gender and the woman of the house could know whether or not she was allowed to open the door….

It is thought that the open palm doorknockers found in Mesopotamia (3000 BC), spread from Morocco to France (late 19th century) around the Art Nouveau movement.

And what do you think about using a pineapple doorknocker as a welcome symbol? Being a rare exotic fruit and really sought after, even kings gave them as presents welcoming guests, so hence the relation with hospitality and generosity.

Stories about different styles (the Adam style knocker, the doctor’s door knocker) are all fascinating!

For our frontdoor we went for an imitation art déco style doorhandle:

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As you know we chose a very special handmade door made by a carpenter:

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Opportunity knocks but once: you’ll soon find these two doorknockers in the Woohoocuties’ shop, so have a look.

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