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The Making of Bamana Sculpture: Creativity and Gender
Brett-Smith, Sarah C.1994
The Making of Bamana Sculpture describes both the techniques and the rituals used by Bamana blacksmiths in Mali, West Africa, when they carve sacred sculpture. Chronicling the process of decision-making that results in a commission, it provides a detailed account of the carving process and also analyses the meaning of this process. Sarah Brett-Smith demonstrates that Bamana sculptors compare the process of producing a ritual object both to sexual intercourse and to childbirth. Her study details how Bamana sculptors become 'great' artists, how this process requires a shift from a 'male' to a 'female' gender identity, and why the Bamana believe that the ambitious artist must make tragic sacrifices to win renown.