The object in the image is a key that operated a locking mechanism located inside the door. An archaic, simple and ingenious system, executed exclusively from wood by carpenters.
This way of securing a door ends up being replaced almost entirely, starting from the 19th century, with a safer, more complex closing system, only the old wooden churches (some from the beginning of the 17th century) keep the testimony of this ingenious door closing system.
The hinged wooden key (the handle and the active part, fastened together by an iron rivet in a way that allows mobility) is inserted through a hole, where, by free fall, the active part of the key can reach and push a “fuștei” (lease rod) behind the door. This, as a kind of latch, could be operated horizontally if the movable end of the key was long enough to fit between the teeth carved on the top and catch the beam with its point, pushing it to the desired direction, opening or closing the massive latch from the back of the door.
The object comes from Jiu Valley, from Petrila, Hunedoara county, it probably belonged to the local wooden church.
Handle-thickness: 3,5 cm x2 cm, length: 34 cm
Active part-thickness: 1,6 cm x2 cm, length: 14 cm
Text: Apai Emese – MET museographer
Photo: George Ciupag - MET photo-video museographer