Iron Working, Madagascar, 1850s

Click on the image to open a larger version in a new window.
previous image return to thumbnails next image

If you are interested in using this image, please consult Acknowledging the Website.

Image Reference

William Ellis, Three visits to Madagascar during the years 1853-1854-1856 (New York, 1859; reprinted, Philadelphia, 1888), p. 294; also published in Harper's New Monthly Magazine (1858-59), vol. 18, p. 597. (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library)

Caption, (left) "iron smelting in Madagascar"; (right) "Malagasy forge and native smiths." "Their smelting furnaces . . . are always fixed near a stream, and the ore . . is broken small, and the earth . . . removed by frequent washings. The sides of the furnaces, usually sunk two or three feet in the ground, are made of stones, covered outside with clay, . . . . The blast is supplied by two pairs of pistons working in wooden cylinders . . . From the bottom of each cylinder a tube, formed by a bamboo or an old gun-barrel, is inserted into a hole through the stones round the furnace. After the contents of the furnace have been kept some time at a white heat it is left to cool, and when opened the iron is found in pigs or lumps at the bottom. In this state, as well as when heated again, [it is] beaten into bars or rods...." (Ellis, 1888, p. 243).