The lamps above have been vetted as being authentic, with signs of significant age and use.
The lamps below have been vetted as being authentic, with some showing use.
Photographs © Tim Hamill
BAMANA / DOGON, Iron Lamps, Mali
Iron objects exhibit the technical skill and artistry that Dogon and Bamana blacksmiths brought to their work. They would do the smelting to get the iron from iron ore, then heat and hammer out both the tools and weapons used and the important ritual objects.
These functional iron lamps, with bowls to burn oil, known as tulu, produced a dark, smoky light that was as much a light for ritual purposes as for illumination. Lamps such as this would serve in the house but also would provide light, real and ritual, for masks when they danced at night. Small spoons hanging by chains were used to adjust the wick, made of twisted cotton (known as fitine-juru) burning in the Karite oil. They could, with the addition of a figure, express status, prestige and power. They would bring honor to the ancestors, the current leadership and the owner of the lamp. They usually depicted a former leader, seated, standing or on horseback. Some would depict a hogon, the supreme officeholder, a semi-divine leader of great wisdom.
With thanks for much helpful information to:
---Dr. Daniel Mato
Professor Emeritus of Art History, Faculty of Fine Arts, The University of Calgary
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