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Blacksmiths: A clan affair

These were very special people and they belonged to particular families and clans only. The most outstanding clan known for its blacksmithing practices was Abang’aale. Branches of this clan are found in most parts of Luhyaland. In Samia they are known as Abang’aale and in Bunyore Abamang’ali. In most other places they are called Abang’ali. Wherever they were found their trade was making iron tools: hoes, axes, knives of all shapes, spears, arrow-heads, bangles, and other iron implements.

There were, of course, other clans which practised blacksmithing, but they were not as widespread as the Abamang’ali. The iron ore (oburale) was found in certain hills, e.g. the Samia Hills. It was taken into the smithy (lirumbi) where it was smelted and then shaped by using a forked bellows. Iron tools were rare and much sought after. Some of them were used as a means of exchange, as there was no money then. The iron trade was handed down from father to son. More photos soon...
Machine made hoes (amachembe - singular: lichembe). Abamang'ali clan found in most Luhya sub tribes have a fierce reputation for being successful ironsmiths. The Abanyala of Busia were famous for pottery and one of their daughters, Magdalene Anyango Namakhiya Odundo is a world renowned ceramic artist. Some of her work (below) is on exhibition at the British Museum in London.
odundo pottery
Traditional handcrafts, pottery and basketry
Some Luhya families specialized in handcrafts and the making of baskets. Among the handcrafts were musical instruments like drums and harps; also stools, wooden hoe handles, wooden vessels (e.g. eshinu), and so on. They also made fishing traps, ropes and mats

A fishing trap known as ikhafwa and below, a Luhya woman carries esimwero.

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