- Bambara people
Infobox Ethnic group
caption =Bambara people in upper Sénégal river valley, 1890. (illustration from Colonel Frey's Côte occidentale d'Afrique, 1890, Fig.49 p.87)
poptime =2,700,000 (2005)
Mali, Guinée, Sénégal, Burkina Faso, Niger,
Mandinka people, Soninke people, Diola, other Mande speaking groups.|
The Bambara ("Bamana" in their own language, or sometimes "Banmana") are a
Mandepeople living in west Africa, primarily in Malibut also in Guinea, Burkina Fasoand Senegal. [Cite web |url=http://www.zyama.com/bambara/index.htm Zyama.com |title=Tribal African Art Bambara (Bamana, Banmana) |accessdate=2008-07-08 |publisher=Zyama.com - African Art Museum] [Cite book |last=den Otter |first=Elisabeth |coauthor=Esther A. Dagan |title=Puppets and masks of the Bamana and the Bozo (Mali) - from The Spirit's Dance in Africa |url=http://www.euronet.nl/users/edotter/mali/mali.html |publisher=Galerie Amrad African Arts Publications |date=1997] They are considered to be amongst the largest Mandeethnic groups, and are the dominant Mande group in Mali, with 80% of the population speaking the Bambara language, regardless of ethnicity.
There remains debate about the exact meaning of the name "Bamanan". [Cite book | last=Djata |first=Sundiata A. K. |title=The Bamana Empire by the Niger: Kingdom, Jihad and Colonization 1712-1920 |location=Princeton, NJ |publisher=Markus Wiener Publishers |date=1997 |isbn=1558761314] The name "Bamana" has been said to mean "Those who reject God" ("infidel" or "barbarian") derived from the Mande words "Ban" (to reject or rebel) and "ana" (God). It seems unlikely that Muslim neighbors in the era before conversion would name the Bamana in their own language, and the Bamana did accept "their" god or gods, making it an unlikely name to give themselves. Some Banmana people, in contrast, have translated the name as "accepting of no master". There is no consensus on the name's origin or meaning. The name "Bambara" is likely an inaccurate French transliteration of "Banmana".
The Bamana originated as a section of the
Mandinka people, the founders of the Mali Empire in the 13th Century. Both a part of the Mandéethnic group, whose earliest known history can be traced back to sites near Tichitt(now subsumbed by the Saharain southern Mauritania), where urban centers began as early as 1500 BCE. By 250 BCE a Mande subgroup, the Bozo, founded the city of Djenne. Between 300 CE and 1100 CE the SoninkeMande dominated the Western Sudan, leading the Ghana Empire. When the Mandé Songhai Empiredissolved after 1600 CE, many Mandé speaking groups along the upper Niger riverbassin turned inward. The Bamana appeared in this milieu with the rise of the Bamana Empirein the 1740s.
Growing from farming communities in
Ouassoulou, between Sikassoand Côte-d’Ivoire, Bamana age co-fraternities (called "Ton"s) began to develop a state structure which became the Bambara Empire. In stark contrast to their Muslimneighbors, the Bamana state practised and formalised traditional polytheistic religion, though Muslim communities remained locally powerful, if excluded from the central state at Segu.
The Bamana became the dominant cultural community in western
Mali. The Bambara language, mutually intelligible with the Manding and Diolalanguages, has become the principal interethnic language in Mali and the an official language of the state alongside French.
Although most Bamana today adhere to
Islam, many still practise the traditional rituals, especially in honoring ancestors. This form of syncretic Islam remains rare, even allowing for conversions that in many cases happened in the mid to late 19th century. This recent history, though, contributes to the richness and fame (in the West) of Bamana ritual arts.
Bamana share many aspects of broader Mandé social structure. Society is
patrilinealand patriarchal, though virtually no women wear a veil. Mandé culture is known for its strong fraternal orders and sororities ("Ton") and the history of the Bambara Empire strengthened and preserved these orders. The first state was born as a refashioning of hunting and youth "Ton"s into a warrior caste. As conquests of their neighbors were successful, the state created the "Jonton" ("Jon" = slave), or slave warrior caste, replenished by warriors captured in battle. While slaves were excluded from inheritance, the Jonton leaders forged a strong corporate identity. Their raids fed the Segu economy with goods and slaves for trade, and bonded agricultural laborers who were resettled by the state.
Traditionally, Mandé society is hierarchal or caste-based, with nobility and
vassals. Bamana political order created a small free nobility, set in the midst of endogamous casteand ethnic variation. Both castes and ethnic groups performed vocational roles in the Bamana state, and this differentiation increased with time. For instance, the Marakamerchants developed towns focused first on desert side trade, and latter on large scale agricultural production using slaves captured by the state. The Julaspecialised in long distance trade, as did Fulacommunities within the state, who added this to cattle herding. The Bozoethnicity were largely created out of war captives, and turned by the state to fishing and ferrying communities.
In addition to this, the Bamana maintained internal castes, like other Mandé peoples, with
Griothistorian/praise-singers, priests, metalworkers, and other specialist vocations remaining endogamous and living in designated areas. Formerly, like most other African societies, they also held slaves ("Jonw"/"Jong(o)"), often war prisoners from lands surrounding their territory. With time, and the collapse of the Bamana state these caste differences have eroded, though vocations have strong family and ethnic correlations.
The Bamana have continued in many places their tradition of caste and age group inauguration societies, known as Ton. While this is common to most
Mandésocieties, the Ton tradition is especially strong in Bamana history. Tons can be by sex (initiation rites for young men and women), age (with the earlier young men's "Soli" Ton living separately from the community and providing farm labor prior to taking wives), or vocation (the farming Chi Wara Ton or the hunters Donzo Ton). While these societies continue as ways of socialising and passing on traditions, their power and importance faded in the 20th century.
The Bamana people adapted many artistic traditions. Artworks were created both for religious use and to define cultural and religious difference. Bamana artistic traditions include
pottery, sculpture, weaving, ironfigures, and masks. While the tourist and art market is the main destination of modern Bamana artworks, most artistic traditions had been part of sacred vocations, created as a display of religious beliefs and used in ritual.
Bamana forms of art include the "n’tomo" mask and the Tyi Warra. The "n’tomo" mask was used by dancers at male initiation ceremonies. The Tyi Warra (or "ciwara") headdress was used at harvest time by young men chosen from the farmers association. Other Bamana statues include fertility statues, meant to be kept with the wife at all times to ensure fertility, and statues created for vocational groups such as hunters and farmers, often used as offering places by other groups after prosperous farming seasons or successful hunting parties.
Each special creative trait a person obtained was seen as a different way to please higher spirits. Powers throughout the Bamana art making world were used to please the ancestral spirits and show beauty in what they believed in. Hampate Ba, a Malian philosopher and writer, stated "we have learned weavers, sculptors, potters and smiths were members of exclusive societies in which the masters, assisted by their servants, taught the apprentices the sacred craft. Rather than derive money...they devoted themselves to the sacred craft in order to please the gods and the spirits of the ancestors." Fact|date=January 2007
*Cite journal|last=Imperato |first=Pascal James |title=The Dance of the Tyi Wara |journal=African Arts |date=1970 |pages=8-13, 71-80 |volume=4 |issue=1
*Cite book |last=Le Barbier |first=Louis |title=Études africaines : les Bambaras, mœurs, coutumes, religions |location=Paris |pages=42 |date=1918 fr icon
*Cite journal|last=McNaughton |first=Patrick R. |title=Bamana Blacksmiths |journal=African Arts |date=1979 |pages=65-66, 68-71, 91 |volume=12 |issue=2
*Cite book |last=Pharr |first=Lillian E. |title=Chi-Wara headdress of the Bambara: A select, annotated bibliography |date=1980 |oclc=8269403 |publisher=Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution |location=Washington DC
*Cite book |last=Roberts |first=Richard L. |title=Warriors, Merchants and Slaves: The State and the Economy in the Middle Niger Valley 1700-1914 |isbn=0804713782 |date=1987
*Cite journal|last=Roberts |first=Richard L. |title=Production and Reproduction of Warrior States: Segu Bambara and Segu Tokolor |date=1980 |journal=The International Journal of African Historical Studies |pages=389-419 |volume=13 |issue=3
*Cite book |last=Tauxier |first=Louis |title=Histoire des Bambara |location=Paris |date=1942 |pages=226 |publisher=P. Geuthner fr icon
*Cite journal|last=Wooten |first=Stephen R. |title=Antelope Headdresses and Champion Farmers: Negotiating Meaning and Identity through the Bamana Ciwara Complex |journal=African Arts |volume=33 |issue=2 |date=2000 |pages=18-33, 89-90
*Cite book |last=Zahan |first=Dominique |title=Antilopes du soleil: Arts et rites agraires d'Afrique noire |edition=A. Schendl |location=Paris |date=1980 |isbn=3852680697
* [http://princetonol.com/groups/iad/lessons/middle/bamana.htm "Who are the Bamana?" - Princeton Online]
* [http://www.origomundi.com Photo documents of Bambara art and other information regarding other African tribal art]
* [http://www.africart.net/pages/baminf1.htm "Civilisation et art bambara (ou bamana)"] fr icon
* [http://www.inspiration-productions.com/afrique/francais/accueil_afrique.html Documentary on a rural Bamana village in Mali] fr icon
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Look at other dictionaries:
Bambara — may refer to:* Bambara people, an ethnic group primarily in Mali. * Bambara language, their language, also used by other groups as a lingua franca. * Bambara (beetle) , a genus of feather winged beetles … Wikipedia
Bambara — noun (plural Bambara or Bambaras) Etymology: Arabic bambāra, probably ultimately from Bambara bamana, a self designation Date: 1851 1. a member of an African people of the upper Niger 2. a Mande language of the Bambara people … New Collegiate Dictionary
bambara — bämˈbärə noun (plural bambara or bambaras) Usage: usually capitalized 1. a. : a Negroid people of the upper Niger noted for their delicate mask carving b. : a member of the Bambara people 2 … Useful english dictionary
Bambara — n. member of the African Bambara people that live in Mali (western Africa) n. group African people that live in Mali (western Africa) n. Mandingo language spoken by the Bambara people … English contemporary dictionary
Bambara groundnut — Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae (unranked) … Wikipedia
Bambara language — Infobox Language familycolor=Niger Congo name=Bambara nativename=Bamanankan states=flagicon|Mali Mali flagicon|Burkina Faso Burkina Faso flagicon|Côte d Ivoire Côte d Ivoire region=central southern Mali and abroad speakers=2,700,000 (several… … Wikipedia
Bambara — /bahm bahr ah, bahr euh/, n. 1. a Mande language that is used as a trade language in the upper Niger drainage basin in Africa. 2. a member of an agricultural, Mande speaking people of Mali. * * * People of the upper Niger region of Mali who speak … Universalium
Bambara — /bamˈbarə/ (say bahm bahruh) noun 1. a people of western Africa living mainly in Mali. 2. (plural Bambara or Bambaras) a member of this people. 3. their language, a Mande language of the Niger Congo family. –adjective 4. of or relating to this… … Australian English dictionary
Bambara — [bam bα:rə] noun (plural same or Bambaras) 1》 a member of a West African people living chiefly in Mali. 2》 the Mande language of the Bambara. Origin a local name … English new terms dictionary
Bambara — Bam•ba•ra [[t]bɑmˈbɑr ɑ, ˈbɑr ə[/t]] n. pl. ras, (esp. collectively) ra. 1) peo a member of an African people living mainly in S Mali, to the E and S of Bamako 2) peo a group of dialects of the Mande language shared by the Bambara and Malinke … From formal English to slang