This morning our friend, Anounou took us to visit Pascal, the woodcarver in his shop here in the old part of Bamako. It was amazing to see where these good men work on the Nativities and carvings they are making for us and for so many of our friends. In the picture above, the shop is where the break in the roof is, open on the top and on two sides. That’s were the chunks of wood turn into works of art.
As we approached, we found Pascal and 4 other men carving things we ordered a few weeks ago. They were seated on low chairs or slabs of wood on the dirt floor, with their work on their laps. There were no power tools, no lights, no fans, no floor, no inventory. They only work when they get orders and they have no shop to display their work so they can get more orders.
The families in our mission have already ordered more than 50 Nativities! That’s more work than these men have had in several years! They were ecstatic when I came today with more orders. Between them, these fathers have 22 children. What a blessing this will be to their families. They are so grateful to all who have placed orders. They love their work and they work hard, as you will see.
This is Pascal, who manages this shop. I’ve known him for many years now. Every year when we’ve come to Mali, we’ve ordered carvings from him for our annual Ouelessebougou Dinner Auction. Each year we’ve ordered 2 or 3 Nativities, a Noah’s Ark with animals, and some things like bowls, trays, or serving spoons. He also does very beautiful carvings of African women working or of animals.
Today he was working on an animal for one of the Nativity sets. He told me every carver knows how to make every piece for every Nativity set. They didn’t have samples sitting in front of them to copy, they just know how to work the wood and turn it into something beautiful.
Pascal carries his inventory in this leather sack and in his back pack. He pulled out the little bit of inventory they had on hand.
This man is making the Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus in the African hut. He copied one I found in the markets near Abidjan. Pascal said it takes one carver 4 days to make this piece. This Nativity sells for $25. That’s about $6 a day divided by 8 hours = about $.75 an hour.
This next carver is making the marionette Nativity. The arms on these pieces move.
This man is making the arm pieces.
The wood they use is Teak. One of the older men here today had brought this wood to them. He was resting now.
Here is the tool box. Every single bit is done by hand.
Even things like bowls are carved by hand, not turned.
Here is Pascal’s price list for each piece they make:
What an interesting visit! I love watching how things are made and I love the feeling of my appreciation increasing because of that. The work these men do will be treasured by me and by many others.