Art of the Bamana Blacksmith

by Patrick McNaughton
Indiana University

The blacksmith Chekòrò Traore, specialist in gun making. Bamana peoples, Mali. Photo by Patrick McNaughton. 

Over the course of several hundred years, smiths have even been responsible for making guns for the hunters and soldiers of Mande society. The earliest guns may well have been copies of weapons carried by an army of invading Moroccans in 1591 A.D., and locally made guns are still very popular among hunters. Chekòrò specialized only in gun making. In fact many Mande blacksmiths specialize in products for which they have a flair or which give them great enjoyment. For some these are agricultural implements. For others they are masks or various types of sculpture.