Ornamental gates are some of the most symbolic fence materials. Portland’s Jungian psychologists would point out that gates are the ultimate thresholds. Mythologists such as Joseph Campbell have found that, in stories across cultures, gates represent the line between the known and the unknown. In Campbell’s concept of the hero’s journey, a sort of recurring plotline in myths throughout history, the hero must often cross a gate in order to begin his or her own transformation.
In our everyday lives, ornamental gates function as announcements of just what type of person lives in a certain home, or what type of business operates in a certain building. Gates can also represent safety and security – just think about so-called gated communities. Finally, gates can also represent a movement from one defined neighborhood into another; this is the function of the ornate gates to Chinatown in Portland.