Over the last two decades there has been a proliferation of studies in ethnomathematics dedicated towards shedding light on its importance in enhancing education (cf. Bishop, 1988; Gerdes, 1985). Many ethno mathematicians have utilized the object world as a tool in the learning of mathematical concepts, but little research to date has focused on the role of objects as agents that activate mathematical thought. In this article I argue that the material qualities of objects can mobilize mathematical thinking and act as vehicles for learning. I show that geometric patterns incised on traditional arts and crafts are effective tools in the mathematics classroom in cultures that tend towards visual forms of knowledge. Anthropology is ideally suited for this type of study and as I aim to show, an ethnographic approach can give valuable insights into education and knowledge technology.