Doors and doorways have been symbolic across cultures for as long as history has been recorded. A door is both an entrance and an exit, so it has been associated with portals and passageways on many levels throughout history. Doors are closely related to gates and thresholds because the three share some very similar symbolic features and sometimes work together to create passage.
Doors were first seen in recorded history on paintings inside Egyptian tombs. The ancient Romans had advanced architectural elements and were known to have used single, double, sliding, and folding doors. The Roman god Janus was the god of doors and doorways, and also the god of beginnings, endings, transitions, gates, gateways, and time. Doors still continue to symbolize all of these elements today.
Entrances: A door is first and foremost an entrance. On a literal level a door usually leads to the inside of something, be it a house, building, or other structure. Within a structure itself a door serves as both an entrance and exit to other rooms, a passageway between rooms, and an exit from the structure. On a metaphorical level, a door can become an entrance to nearly anything, but it is most commonly used to symbolize the entrance to another world.
Beginnings: An open door has been a long-time symbol of a new beginning. An open door shows that there’s a way out and can also provide a view of what lies ahead. A closed or locked door, on the other hand, can represent a dead end or create the feeling that there’s no way out. A door can be a symbol of opportunity or one of imprisonment.
Transitions: A door or doorway symbolizes the transition and passageway from one place to another. A door is often used to symbolize the passage from one world to another in religion, mythology, and literature. A doorway may be used in lore and literature to symbolize a short transition, while a hallway might be used as a contrasting longer transition. Even when people literally use the door of a building to enter or exit the outside world, they are going through a type of transition each time.
Gateways: Doors and gates and doorways and gateways are very similar at a glance but show a few subtle differences upon examination. A gate is an open type of entrance; even when closed, a person can see what lies beyond a gate. A doorway, on the other hand, provides little view to the other side when closed. Doors are associated with privacy, control, and protection much more than a welcoming, open-view gate.
Thresholds: A threshold is typically a boundary and point at which two places meet. It is where two worlds come together and provide a point of passage. Reaching or crossing the threshold is associated with rebirth and leaving the past behind. A door can be used as a type of threshold to symbolize a boundary and separate two distinct places.
Endings: Just as a door that’s an entrance represents a beginning, a door that’s an exit represents an end. But while a door can symbolize an ending, it often dually symbolizes both an end and a new beginning, as well as a gateway to rebirth. And while a door may be found at the end of a long passageway, there’s an element of hope that there’s something on the other side.
Cultural Indications in Clichés: “Opportunity knocks” refers to the longer cliché of an opportunity knocking on one’s door. As discussed above, doors represent opportunity, especially open ones. The rhetorical question Were you born in a barn? refers to a person who leaves the door wide open, suggesting that a door symbolizes a non-primitive culture. “Next door” is a saying referring to an adjacent home or building, suggesting that the door to the home is a symbol of the home itself.
Use the Door to Your Home to Symbolize the Home Itself
It’s clear that a door can say a lot and hold a thousand meanings. You can use the door to your home to create meaning and symbolism that says something about you and your household. By choosing the right door, you can either draw attention to your home and give it added personality, or you can help it blend in and remain anonymous.
When choosing a door for your home, think about elements such as the color, materials, craftsmanship, hardware, and other accessories. What do the elements that stand out in your door say about you as a person, and how can you pick a door that will project your inner nature? Here are a few examples:
- A door with a peephole, for example, may suggest your need for a view to the outside world or to know what’s on the other side of a door before you open it.
- A door with a knocker or doorbell invites visitors to knock loudly to see if you’re at home or not, suggesting that you want to make sure you don’t miss anyone.
- A door with wrought-iron fixtures is more rugged and masculine than a door with fine detail work in the woodwork or paint job.
- A colorfully painted metal or wooden door can also give your home a certain personality, while decorating a door can be very inviting to friends and strangers alike, showing that you have a welcoming and creative home.
This entry was posted on Friday, March 23rd, 2012 at 8:00 am
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