If you ever visit Bamako, one place to be sure to put on your list is the Artisan Market. I love this market–the artisans, the smells, the unusual things to look at, and all the best friends you make the moment you express interest in any little item!
This is a working market. The artisans actually craft their art right here in front of you. If you want a pair of crocodile shoes, you can see the skins pinned on boards drying. If you want an elephant carving, you can watch the tools in the hands of the craftsman and smell the black shoe dye it’s rubbed with.
The market is like a maze of shops and vendors–everything from food to jewelry. There are beaded necklaces and bracelets and silver and gold smiths fashioning intricate charms or earrings. You can find all sorts of wood carvings–every imaginable animal, masks or African figures. You can practice bargaining for leather goods–belts, wallets, shoes or leather boxes. There are traditional musical instruments like drums of every variety, calabash instruments and African guitars.
Everywhere you look, there’s something interesting and there are interesting people. I’ve visited this market enough over the years that my vendor friends remember my name and remember exactly what I purchased the last time I was here. I am always happy to see them again.
I hope you will take a few minutes to really look at these fascinating photos and every little colorful item you see here. This will give you a good feel for African culture and tradition and a good idea for what shoppers like to buy!
Welcome to the Bamako Artisan’s Market!
Silversmiths making bracelets.
Old Malian glass wedding beads:
Our expedition shoppers buying things for our Ouelessebougou Dinner Auction in May:
The tools are just as interesting as the carvings!
When you soak a crocodile skin in the stuff in the tubs, it softens it.
Finding some gifts for our Mali Elders.
Where they dry the snake skins:
Crocodile and large lizard skins:
I hope you enjoyed that visual feast! In the next post I’ll show you some of the traditional medicine and witchcraft items you can find for sale just outside the Artisan’s Market.