Research Items


    Bronzes from Southern Nigeria A REMARKABLE collection of bronze castings found at Igbo, Southern Nigeria, is figured and described by J. O. Field, assistant district officer, in Man of January 1940. They were unearthed in the course of digging a well, but no details are available. The castings would seem to have been made by the cire perdue process, though rubber latex may have been used instead of wax. The castings are covered with a rich green patina. The finest piece is an urn or cauldron 101 inches high with a diameter across the top of 8 inches. It forms a shallow bowl with broad lip on a wide hollow stand. It is decorated with a series of rosettes interspaced with beetles and grasshoppers. At top and base are bands of hatched triangles and in the middle a broad band with a complicated design of rectilinear figures and circles. The edge of the lip and the base are decorated with a twisted cord design. Among other objects are two scabbards in which are the remains of iron blades, but without hilts, a bust with evidence of bead ornament, small shells which rotate, a human head, possibly female, showing cicatrization resembling the modern style, two highly conventionalized rams' heads, with highly ornate twisted horns and three spiral objects, of which two display a snake motif, while another peculiar object is a massive casting elaborately ornamented with eyelets, loops and whorls, and also extensively ornamented with coloured beads, and near the top a series of rings from which emerge small snakes' heads, having above them a wheel-like flange with a great number of triangular spokes and on top of this a wide metal ring. The occurrence of an 'Aro knot' suggests contact with the Aro people, but the earliest tradition of their presence in the region does not go back beyond about the middle of the last century. Otherwise there is nothing to determine the origin of this metal work. The Igbo people are not themselves metal workers, and it is improbable that they were made by Benin crafts-men.

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    Research Items. Nature 145, 352–353 (1940).

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