The entrance to your custom built home is an important first impression to the private world cultivated within. Doors literally and figuratively provide this entrance and their ornamentation has evolved over the centuries with cultural and symbolic influences. The front door to the home is an opportunity to express the personality of the home owner, reflect the architectural style of the home or provide a simple reference to traditions or heritage.
The simple adornment of a brass or iron door knocker adds impact to the entrance, and choosing a design based on its original symbolic intent is one further way for the custom homeowner to truly personalize the impression to those outside. The first encounter with a home’s interior is the result of the entrance into it. Many older period homes and stately mansions have decorative knockers today, perhaps with an intent to symbolize hospitality or luck or just because it looks nice. Traditional door ornamentations vary greatly by geography and culture; many styles exist, and homeowners generally try to be consistent with the period look of their front door, as well as select fittings that blend with the home’s architectural style.
The English were among the first modern day civilizations to embrace and popularize the door knocker, incorporating it into iconic English scenes such as in A Christmas Carol, or even the front door of 10 Downing Street. The lion with a ring, as evidenced in both aforementioned scenes, is classic and stately, but actually harkens back to ancient Rome, when slaves were chained to the rings on front doors to greet the guests of fine Roman houses. As with many design elements today, historians trace the origins of door knockers to Ancient Greece, often with designs based on statues of this period. However, the features would be distorted, often grotesquely caricatured, much like gargoyles, with the purpose of warding off evil spirits and witches.
In addition to protection, knockers commonly displayed symbols of good luck and fortune, particularly in country manors, with designs such as clovers, horse shoes, stars or a sun, again depending on the geographic region. In Muslim countries, the hand shaped knocker is thought to symbolize the Hand of Fatima, a talisman to protect the house from evil. It was also customary in Muslim countries for there to be two different knockers on the door, one for each gender, which made a different sound, as it was deemed inappropriate for a woman to open the door to a man.
During the Georgian period in England, there was an explosion in decorative styles and accessibility of door knockers; an increasing number of brass and iron work foundries made art metal work accessible to middle class folks and more modest homes. Many luxury custom built homes today have stately front doors adorned with a brass door knocker that can trace its roots to this period, with design chosen for both symbolic and decorative purposes. Choosing a beautiful door knocker to adorn the front door can add both meaning and impact to your home’s entrance.