Art of the Bamana Blacksmith

by Patrick McNaughton
Indiana University

Iron figure with Duiker antelope horns and various organic attachments, Mali. Photo by Jeffrey Wolin. Submitted by Patrick McNaughton. 

This work also fits no convenient category. It seems to have been made for a hunter, as part of a personal altar, and it is designed to harness potent natural energy (nyama) that is believed to be the world's major source of power and is conceived of very much like Americans conceive of electricity. Here the attachments add and organize that power, but the iron sculpture itself does, too, and that is largely because Mande blacksmiths are considered to be great sources of this power and also great manipulators of it.