The Senegambia craft market is where many local Gambian artists skilled in carving wood and making beautiful wooden sculptures have their workshop. Masks, lady figures, animals, bowls. Wooden hand-made art pieces are one of the most beloved souvenirs by visitors of The Gambia. If you have ever heard of or been to the Craft market, then you know how much precision and talent it takes to make a product which will once stand on the shelf in your living room. If you haven't been able to visit the Craft market yet, you are in the right place. We will do our best to picture a scene for you.
Senegambia's Craft market is one of the biggest art and souvenir markets, dedicated solely to the artists that make hand-made products such as wooden pieces, jewellery, clothes, sand pictures or silver jewellery. When you step into the half-closed space, you can see more than 50 shops where local artists sell their products. But those are not only shops. They are also second homes for many individuals, which usually spend most of their day there. Not only because it is their job, but also because you can feel positive energy and happiness there. It is always loud, filled with laughter and sales persuasion lines once the Craft market gets new visitors.
The first visit can be a bit too much because some artists would try to get you in their shop to show you their products. But if you go there also for the second or third time, you will become a part of the family. Artists will offer you their chairs and put on a kettle of water to prepare the attaya. In the meantime, you can look around and find a perfect souvenir. And also, they will be happy to teach you how to play Wurrey, one of the oldest games in the world. They would soon pick sides and cheer for their champion. All of the above goes hand in hand with playful teasing, which always brings a pile of laughter from encircling shops.
Looking around the market, you could see some artists brewing the attaya, tending to their customers, chatting with their neighbours, and sitting on the floor working on their most recent concept for a new wooden sculpture. It is vibrant, and the artwork is displayed with care.
Making even the most uncomplicated wooden creation takes a lot of time. And woodcarvers must be very careful when it comes to delicate lines and sculpting animals. Sometimes one can make the product by 90%, and with one wrong move, one can destroy a whole week of work. Therefore, consider that a wooden sculpture that may have taken a few weeks to make is more valuable than even the first price offered. Negotiation at the markets in The Gambia is a must and a part of the culture. Yet our wish is for visitors of the craft market not to be too hard on them as their handmade are mainly the only thing enabling them to provide for their families.