Bambara


Bambara
/bahm bahr"ah, -bahr"euh/, n.
1. a Mande language that is used as a trade language in the upper Niger drainage basin in Africa.
2. a member of an agricultural, Mande-speaking people of Mali.

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People of the upper Niger region of Mali who speak a Mande language of the Niger-Congo family.

Numbering 3.4 million, the Bambara use the distinctive N'ko alphabet, which reads from right to left, and they are noted for their wood and metal sculptures. In the 17th–18th centuries the Bambara developed two separate empires, one based in Ségou (and including Timbuktu) and the other in Kaarta.

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people
 ethnolinguistic group of the upper Niger region of Mali whose language, Bambara (Bamana), belongs to the Mande branch (Mande languages) of the Niger-Congo language family (Niger-Congo languages). The Bambara are to a great extent intermingled with other tribes, and there is no centralized organization. Each small district, made up of a number of villages, is under a dominant family that provides a chief, or fama. The fama has considerable powers but must defer to a council of elders.

      The Bambara, like other West African peoples, use the distinctive N'ko alphabet, which reads from right to left. They have a remarkable system of metaphysics and cosmology, encompassing associated animistic cults, prayers, and myths. Their religious sculptures in wood and metal are renowned.

      Economic changes in the mid-20th century included the introduction of such cash crops as peanuts (groundnuts), rice, and cotton into the pattern of subsistence agriculture. Many people migrated to the region's towns.

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Universalium. 2010.

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