Why We Have Lion’s Head Door Knockers



door knockers

Door knockers (or doorknockers, if you prefer) have been around since the invention of the door, more or less, but they’ve undergone some unique transformations over the centuries – to the point where even a lion’s head isn't out of the question.

But, how did that happen?

Door Knocker Origins, Generally

Door knockers don’t have an origin, per se, because they’re eons old and no one would have thought to document the very first one, so all we have to go by are cues from literature and the archeological evidence of their existence throughout history.

While we can’t retrace history back to the first door knocker, what we do know is that some of the first examples appeared in ancient Greece – although they had a more sinister purpose. Back then, doors were answered by slaves and their masters would chain them to the outside of the door on a ring so they couldn’t run away …

It’s ghastly to consider, but fortunately for every single person in the world, ever, having a human being chained to the door eventually fell out of fashion. But, the rings remained and the first door knockers were born.

Lion’s Head Door Knocker Origins, Specifically

It didn’t take long for people to start embellishing their door knockers with all manner of designs, many of which were influenced by mythology, religious teachings and nature. Ancient China inspired dragon’s head door knockers, for example, while the Western church influenced the use of gargoyles and other beasts on worshippers’ doors.

These examples serve to illustrate just one of many differences in meaning and symbolism in the door knocker's evolving history. Dragon’s heads offered a projection of strength and protection; gargoyles represented the malignant spirits barred from entry, harnessed to serve both as a call and a warning to others who may trespass.

So, how did lion heads become popular?

Lions have been a fixture in human history since the beginning of recorded time and have come to represent many things. The common theory is that they symbolized then, at the dawn of the door knocker, what they continue to symbolize now: strength, pride, protection and supremacy. They are the kings of the jungle, but even so a lion door knocker serves the master within, which implies those who dwell behind those doors are mightier still.

Take adventure grilling to the next level with this portable gas grill from Napoleon Products, which features a folding scissor cart, temperature gauge and windproof lid. 

Classic Hardware follows a traditional approach by putting the ring in the lion's mouth in this vintage brass door knocker. 

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