It seems door knockers – tocadores de puerta – are very commonplace in Antigua Guatemala. Almost every door displays a gorgeous piece. Animals, religious symbols, and all kinds of things. Once you notice them it’s hard to stop noticing them! Since it would be very rude to give them a try (knock knock!) I merely took some photos of my favorites.
The low colonial homes line the streets, appearing colourful but humble from outside. The heavy wooden doors hide the fact the many of the houses are quite spacious inside, often with a large open courtyard or private backyard. The solid portones create a barrier to the private space inside, and the knockers force visitors to announce their arrival with a loud sound much more dramatic than a chirpy doorbell. Knock! Loud enough to carry through the thick walls.
The entrance is the first impression of a place you visit. So how do you select a knocker? Does it reflect the mood or traits of the people who live in the home? Knockers depicting animals seemed the most popular – elephants, snakes and bears. And most common – the lion. So many lions! Some looking more fierce than others…
Hands were also a popular choice. Hand shaped knockers are common in several Muslim countries and are considered a symbol of protection. Perhaps the style arrived in Guatemala with the Spanish (and their North African influences) in 1500’s? I saw many hands, but my favorite was the golden hand with pointed fingers. Tense, gracefully curved. It was extra tempting to give that one a try. Rap rap.
So many others – expressive faces, symbols, and cherubs. Every time I thought I had exhausted my interest in photographing them I would notice another and think “well, just one more”. There were a few that I didn’t photograph, and I still regret it. That mermaid, ahhhhh!
I have a brass knocker on my door at home, and it was nice to see a bit a familiarity in pretty Antigua. It’s always great to see beauty and artistry displayed in something functional…even when there is a bit more of an “DIY” aesthetic involved. And next time I’m in Antigua I will certainly get a shot of that mermaid knocker!