The two guardians of a property. Their appearance varies according to the customs of the people, to the goal they serve, to the nature of the things they protect or the eventual intruder properties. Some gates are used for sacred or decorative goals, for example Japanese Torii, traditional gates without fences, marking the transition from the profane to the sacred. Some Romanian monasteries have a gate at a distance from the actual sacred inner space, a gate marking the borderline space. Other fences don’t have gates, being used to mark the limits of an inhabited land, to protect the vegetation inside the enclosure from animals or to protect the fauna and flora in a reservation from outer pollution.
The ethnic properties (habits, traditions, specific necessities) of a population leave their mark on the way people are constructing their fences and gates. For example in a typical peasant household in Transylvania the house has a small door built near (or sometimes inside) the large gate used for horse or cattle driven wagons. In my grandparents’ village, almost deserted now, located in the South of Transylvania, on the river Olt, houses are built close to each other, but in such a way that proprietors cannot see the neighboring courtyards from their own. The courtyard leads to the house garden, in the back of the property. There you can find a spirit of fraternity, combined with individualism and privacy protection. The gates are usually made of wood in the old tradition, more recently replaced with iron gates. Sometimes the gates are sculpted, creating different ornaments.
Fences are also made of wood (planks) and sometimes wire. Our garden was surrounded once by an interesting thick fence made of thin rods, continued with a more usual fence of planks. This one was an opportunity for me in my childhood to step over it where I had my special place, using the holes and the empty spaces as a ladder. Sometimes it is so easy to jump over a fence or to sneak under it if it is a pole fence, easier than locking and unlocking the gate or the front door. Sometimes the nearby dog is the only real guardian and alarm.
When larger villages became towns they preserved this special type of gate, with some adaptations.