Door furniture - a little deception

Marjolein Katsma

Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Share this page Photo © 2009 Marjolein Katsma | Text © 2010 Marjolein Katsma


Tags for this photograph:
karakul, kara-kul, qaraqul, murghab, murghob, gorno badakhshan, tajikistan, travel, door, rope, bone, handle, lock, closed, courtyard, bolt, padlock, hasp, improvisation, door furniture, door hardware, door ironwork, slide bolt, yak hair


I’m rather out of my depth here for terminology: English is not my native language and even in Dutch I don’t know the correct terms for all the bits of ironwork you can see here. Please help me out with better terms!

I was fascinated by all the bits of ironwork on this double door – a gate to a courtyard, seen from the inside: this was at the house where we stayed in Kara-kul, the small town on the shore of the same-named lake.

I got the term “door furniture” from Wikipedia, which also told me this is used in the UK and Australia, while in the USA one talks about “door hardware”. No word about Canada, South Africa, or any other English-speaking part of the world. In Dutch we have the term “hang en sluitwerk” but that refers to locks, hinges and handles not only on doors and gates, but windows as well. I liked “door furniture”, so I stuck with that for my title.

So what do we have here? View large to get all the details! At the top, a sliding bolt, which seems to be only half-closed. Farther down, to the right, a nice shiny handle to pull the door open, which also serves as a parking space for the pin which can be used to close the “hinge lock” (I really have no idea what this thing is called!) below and to the left of it – close only, because right now it is locked by a padlock on a chain. That chain seems to be going right through the other door at which point there’s also a loop of iron wire that may serve as a make-shift door handle: there’s no real door handle on that side.

But on closer inspection, this close-up is deceptive.

Look at the image below (click it for a larger view), and you can see that what looked like part of the left door in the close-up is actually part of the right door. Which means that sliding bolt at the top is sitting there doing nothing at all, certainly not closing or locking anything. And that wire loop that looked like a handle on the left door (I have seen more wire-loop handles like that), is actually keeping the two doors together (although the lock on the chain does that, too, and more securely, in spite of the now oddly-looking placement of that “hinge lock”). Down at the bottom of the right door is another piece of iron work without any apparent function. Finally there’s a sturdy boulder on the ground that all by its own would keep the doors closed.

Door furniture - context

There’s a whole history of changes and improvisations here… And have another look at that “pin” dangling from the door handle on the right: it’s not just that it would not actually close the door when put in that “hinge lock”, now that we know all those bits are actually sitting on the right door. The pin is made from a piece of bone, and the rope it’s dangling from is probably made from yak hair – (semi-domesticated) yaks being the only type of livestock that actually thrives at this altitude and in this climate.

Taken in Kara-Kul, Tajikistan 2009
Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1

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Artwork Comments

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