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Although intricate door knockers are popular these days the origins of that knocker may be something far more regal than it simply looking nice on the door. Greeks were a bit picky about unannounced visits to their dwellings. It was considered a breach of etiquette to enter a dwelling without warning. Where Spartans would simply shout their arrival the more sophisticated Athenians preferred to use a door knocker. Doors had replaced flexible hangings to provide better safety and privacy. Upper class Greeks had slaves whose sole purpose was to answer the door. Its a bit like having a butler but one that was chained to the door to prevent them wandering off.
I find them fascinating historically as well as artistically. Over time many common designs have evolved. Some designs have turned out to be more popular than others. The urn style is among these. The ornaments and patterns have changed but the basic shape has remained. It has always interested me as to what made the classic urn style so well liked. The look does sort of resemble an ancient urn but in reality it does not really look much like one. In contemporary times people have little relation the urn with the exception of a burial container following cremation. What then makes the urn shape so popular for a door knocker? There are varying versions of the ascendance of the design. It is said that the classic urn shape has its origins in the Grecian or Victorian times.
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In olden times there were two different hand-knockers one male and one female as it was considered inappropriate for the woman of the house to open the door to a man. Visitors would use the knocker according to their gender. Each knocker would make a different sound so the woman of the house would know whether or not she should open the door. These gender-based knockers have become less popular in modern times. Door knockers have been used to symbolize everything from hospitality to good luck to warding off bad spirits. With recent ironmongery technology more iconic door knockers can be made by twisting the metal into intricate designs.