Fusing a Senegalese Style
Senegalese blacksmiths have been working with metals since the first millennium B.C.E. and likely adopted certain gold- and silversmithing techniques after coming into contact with early North African traders by at least the 11th century. North African Imazighen, Jewish, and Islamic styles influenced Senegalese techniques and patterns long before the discovery of other West African gold mines and the arrival of Portuguese explorers in the 15th century, fusing into a West African aesthetic that later included importations from the Middle East, Europe, and India.
Yet, styles that are distinctively Senegalese also emerged, as evidenced in the ancient Rao pectoral, a famous 12th-century archaeological find that features many of the techniques still being practiced in Senegal today. Over the centuries, contact between cultures has brought about artistic and aesthetic changes as Senegalese goldsmiths experimented with new materials and technologies while modifying existing motifs.