Malabari teak is proverbially known for its durability and was profusely used in Kerala as building material but especially for making elaborately carved, handsome doors and large wooden chests. To match the finely carved decorations of the doors and chests equally finely crafted locks and latches of iron or brass were designed and affixed on to them. The present example is one of the most intricate and well-designed. Most remarkable is the trident-shaped peg in which the latch is inserted while shutting the door. The two side elements of the trident are in the form of a curved, elongated horse-neck while the central spike of the trident is a pointed arrow. The rod of the latch is held in position by ornate fixtures while the latch itself fits accurately in the lock below, which too is elaborately designed with perforations.
The most prominent element of a traditional Kerala house is its main entrance door which is embellished with finely carved decorative sections. The same is the case with its large wooden chests. To match the high quality of their design and aesthetic the iron locks and latches had to be equally beautiful.


  • Title: Lock and Latch
  • Date Created: 1871/1900
  • Location: Kerala
  • Physical Dimensions: H 35 cm x L 55 cm
  • Rights: Text © Sanskriti Museum of Everyday Art/ Jyotindra Jain
  • Medium: Cast Iron
  • Period: Late 19th Century

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