Art of the Bamana Blacksmith

by Patrick McNaughton
Indiana University

The blacksmith Sedu Traore with herbs, Mali. Photo by Patrick McNaughton. 

Blacksmiths' apprenticeships also involve painstaking and extensive training in the manipulation of the energy called nyama described above. That energy can be amassed in objects and organized into a force that can help people accomplish particular goals. This amassing and organizing occurs largely through an extensive and sophisticated body of knowledge called Jiridon, "The Science of the Trees," which involves essentially the bringing together of various vegetable and other organic matters. Here, Sedu is holding one ingredient for a medicine that helps relieve cramps.