Art of the Bamana Blacksmith

by Patrick McNaughton
Indiana University

Elaborate lamp from the city of San, Mali. Photo by Patrick McNaughton.

Iron lamps were also used to illuminate nighttime ceremonies and festivals. In the city of San near Mali's border with Burkina Faso, this lamp, along with two others that were equally elaborate, were used to light wrestling matches, which are a very popular form of sport and spectacle in many parts of western Africa. The three complex lamps were assembled from a much larger, grander and even more intricate lamp that had fallen into serious disrepair. As of the late 1970s, they were still being used and were much enjoyed by city residents.