1. Introduction

This investigation of the stone bracelet makers in Mali forms part of a study of the stone bracelets of the early Neolithic (4900-4700 BC) in the western part of France (Pailler 2007).

Based on the method tested on the polished axes in Irian Jaya (Indonesia) (Pétrequin and Pétrequin 1993), the detailed study of stone bracelet workshops could offer new perspectives on the production and diffusion of stone bracelets in Western Europe in the 5th millennium BC. The aim of this study is not to apply African models to the Neolithic, but rather to provide different models that can be tested against the archaeological evidence. This requires a thorough investigation into the last craftsmen and the people who wore such bracelets, as well as a more detailed study of the quarry sites and the workshops where the stone was shaped and polished.

Stone bracelet production in Hombori, especially in the 20th century, was flourishing and supported a huge exchange network. Since 2000, several study visits have been undertaken to explore the origins of this production. By collating information obtained from the Burkina Faso and Mali populations, we identified the rock outcrops and met with the workers. Since the tradition of wearing bracelets is dying out, it was a matter of urgency to gather the testimony of the craftsmen on the skills, the manufacturing process and the distribution of the bracelets. During the last investigation in 2006, we had the opportunity to meet three craftsmen. Because of their advanced age, Tiemogo Meyga and Wacaltou stopped making bracelets some years ago, but they were willing to explain the manufacturing and distribution process of their products. Tontoni Maicouba, one of the last craftsmen engaged in this activity, welcomed us in Djaël and took us to the Dimamou outcrops. The results of this study improved our current knowledge of stone bracelet manufacture in this area of Western Africa.


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Last updated: Wed Jul 1 2009