Art of the Bamana Blacksmith

by Patrick McNaughton
Indiana University

Sedu Traore working wood, Mali. Photo by Patrick McNaughton.

Formal apprenticeship can begin in early teens or even before. It involves first a great deal of bellows work, and then woodworking techniques are learned. Apprentices learn to use adzes for shaping, knives for refining, awls for making holes, and thin-bladed spatulas for burning decorative patterns into wood.