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Folklife Festival 2003 > Mali > Crafts > Jewelry
To place jewelry on a woman is to put light in the house.
-Hady Koné, jeweler
Intricately worked jewelry in gold, silver, and copper is not only an object of beauty for those who wear and admire it. For women, it is also an economic resource-a form of wealth, in this case portable wealth, like a bond that can be carried around and cashed in if needed. Its forms and materials also carry meanings. Silver symbolizes light and luck, gold success, and copper is often worn for protection. Certain classical jewelry styles are associated with particular ethnic groups, such as the silver crosses and amulets worn by Tuareg women and men, and the large gold earrings once popular among Fulani (Peul) women. Contemporary styles speak to a more national Malian identity: necklaces may feature a representation of ci wara, the mask/headdress that has become a national Malian symbol, or a gold map of Mali. West African women's fashion magazines also popularize jewelry fashions from Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire.

In most ethnic groups, jewelers are member of blacksmith families. Using casting and forging techniques, they create sumptuous necklaces, bracelets, and rings. The most successful jewelers respond creatively to the changing tastes of their clients by continually adding new forms and styles to the repertoire of more classical forms.

Coming to the Festival...
Tuareg Jewelry, Allasane Ag Agaly, Gao
—Allasane Ag Agaly makes Tuareg jewelry with silver, bronze, ebony, stones and leather He makes teapots, and sabers, knives and won the UNESCO First Prize at SIAO 2000 in Ouagadougou, the regional craft exhibition, for one of his highly decorated silver teapots.
Traditional Jewelry, Amadou Samasekou, Mopti
—Amadou Samesekou, from a family of well-known jewelers, makes traditional forms of gold and silver jewelry. He produced jewelry for the French company Hermès. He makes the famous large Fulani gold earrings.

Modern Jewelry, Hady Kone, Bamako
—Hady Kone makes gold and silver jewelry with modern designs. He comes from a family of jewelers in Segou.
Modern Jewlery, Mamadou Gueye Thiam, Kayes
—Mamadou Gueye Thiam is known for his gold and silver rings, pendants, and earrings.
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