Art of the Bamana Blacksmith

by Patrick McNaughton
Indiana University

Elegantly embellished wooden door in a small Bamana community, Mali. Photo by Patrick McNaughton. 

Many blacksmiths make things that, for one reason or another, are rarely or never mentioned in the scholarly literature on African art. It’s not unusual for Mande smiths to indulge their aesthetic callings and create objects that do not readily fit into the categories of object types Western researchers are so fond of making. This carved wooden door, for example, has been embellished rather elegantly with the addition of carved, abstract wooden shapes. It was the only door of its kind I have ever seen.