Art of the Bamana Blacksmith

by Patrick McNaughton
Indiana University

Two young smiths working in central Mali. Photo by Patrick McNaughton. 

Blacksmiths' ability stems in part from lengthy effective apprenticeships. Typically, a young boy will work the bellows for his father or uncle and perhaps play a bit at carving wood. During that informal period youngsters learn a lot by watching how their elders articulate materials with their tools.