After another Sunday excursion to a flea market just south of Lambertville, NJ I’m the delighted owner of two small bronze animals and a handful of bakelite buttons.

The crocodile and the lizard, totems of West Africa

It was difficult to find treasures at this flea market.  Very little bargaining was going on.  Most of the vendors appeared to know the worth of their goods and were looking for healthy profit.  I don’t blame them a bit, but I find that attitude less than fun at a flea market.  I had already found my bakelite buttons and was about to call it a day when I practically tripped over an open zipper suitcase filled with little bronze animals; crocodiles, turtles, elephants and lizards.  I couldn’t resist playing with them and searching for variations among them.

After purchasing two, I asked the vendor to tell me the story behind them.  His name is Thierno and he was kind enough to write a few notes for me in my book.  In West Africa the crocodile is called Bamba.  The Bambako is the back or spine of the crocodile.  Bamako, the capital city of Mali, was built along a ridge similar to the back of a crocodile and therefore named Bamako.  The crocodile is a totem of the Bambara people from Mali.  The lizard is a totem of the Bubu people in Burkina Faso, West Africa.

Drawing: Very quick (I was running late this morning) ink drawing with fountain pen, followed by simple watercolor washes.