Margi society is based upon an iron technology which provides them with the farming implements as well as other accoutrements of life. These photographs attempt to capture the breadth of those skills. Smelting is the fundamental technology, which is not, however, a particularly complicated or difficult skill. It is invested in the farming caste, which constitutes the vast majority of Margi.
At the left, the faint dark line in the center of the diagonal path is magnetite, the pure iron --rather like iron filings-- that is present in the soils of the area. When it rains the granules of magnetite wash to the center of depressions such as this path. It may then be easily collected and stored in pots, as in the photograph at the right.
The ore is smelted in furnaces such as the one at the left. It is tossed into the small upper hole, filters down to collect around the tuyere coming from the bellows--which is operated from behind the shield on the upper portion of the furnace, and aggregates as a "spongy bloom" of iron, approximately 6 inches across, seen at the right.
The bloom or --increasingly today-- scrap metal is taken to an ingkyagu to be forged into a product. At left, a young smith hammers iron while an assistant works the double bellows. Although most metal products are made for individual buyers, in the spring before farming begins hoes are sold in the local market, as in the photograph at right.
In that photograph ingkyagu women are selling the products of their husbands. The older woman in the left center is notable for wearing a labret, which shows as a white spot below her mouth. Although most older women have holes for such insertions, the fashion had passed and only older women wore them in 1960. She also holds coins in her right hand, presumably from successful sales, and a chicken in her left. If you look carefully you may see that the ground is scattered with the residue of peanuts which they have been eating as they whiled away the day.