Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 6

IGBOWUKWU ART

BY
WAKAMA AUGOZIE
EGIOHMEH PAUL
EHUWA SOLOMON
OLADIPO TEMILADE
DAVID JOHN NWAFA
OKOLI CHISOM
OMODARA SEKEMI
OLUSEYE OLAYINKA
MUFTAU HALMAT
BASSEY EMMANUEL

BRIEF HISTORY OF IGBOUKWU ART


The ancient site of Igbo Ukwu is situated in the modern-day homelands of Igbo
peoples of southern Nigeria. Archaeological finds were first discovered at this site
in 1939 when an Igbo farmer named Isaiah Anozie chanced upon several bronze
objects as he was digging a cistern to hold water in the dry season. It was not until
1959 that the archaeologist Thurstan Shaw excavated this site and discovered that
it must have been part of a storehouse for ritual objects (Shaw 1977). Dated to the
9th or 10th century A.D., Igbo Ukwu represents one of the earliest examples of
bronze casting in sub-Saharan Africa.
Igbo-Ukwu community is located in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra
State. The town is of great historical and cultural significance in Igbo land. The
ancient site of Igbo Ukwu is situated in the modern day homelands of Igbo peoples
of southern Nigeria. Archaeological finds were first discovered at the site in 1939
when an Igbo farmer named Isaiah Anozie chanced upon several bronze objects as
he was digging a cistern to hold water in the dry season. It was not until 1959 that
the archaeologist Thurstan Shaw excavated the site and discovered that it must
have been part of a storehouse for ritual objects. The site dated 9th or 10th century
A.D and it represents one of the earliest examples of bronze casting in sub-Saharan
Africa. The site has several parts, including a main burial, associated caches and
shrines. Igbo Ukwu was a burial place for elite personages, and the burials
identified there were interred with a large quantity of costly grave goods. The
principal burial is of a person buried sitting on a stool, in fine clothing and rich
grave effects such as over 150,000 glass beads, and accompanied by the remains of
at least five attendants. Elaborate cast bronze vases, bowls and ornaments were
discovered at Igbo Ukwu, made with the lost wax technique. The detailed and
delicate surface decoration of objects, featuring tiny figures of insects and small

animals, and the addition of fine wires arranged to emphasize the shape of the
piece. The vase illustrated is enveloped in a stylized woven net, possibly inspired
by the type of net that would have been used for carrying containers. The site
portray a lot of tourist attractions which gives any tourist that visit the area an
insight of what the Igbo Ukwu people and Igbo in general where known for. One
significant thing about Igbo-Ukwu bronze culture undoubtedly is that it is found in
all the migration routes of the Igbos in all parts of Nigeria. This is coupled with the
fact that Igbo-Ukwu has the largest deposits of bronze so far discovered in Africa.
Igbo-Ukwu is notable for three archaeological sites, where excavations have found
bronze artifacts from a highly sophisticated bronze metal-working culture dating
perhaps to the ninth or tenth century, centuries before other known bronzes of the
region. Radiocarbon dating placed the sites around the tenth century or earlier,
which would make the Igbo-Ukwu culture the earliest-known example of bronze
casting in the region. The craftsmen were working centuries before those who
made the more well-known Ife bronzes. The archaeological sites in southeastern
Nigeria are associated with the Nri-Igbo. The three sites include Igbo Isaiah (a
shrine), Igbo Richard (a burial chamber), and Igbo Jonah (a cache).

Some Igboukwu art


IMPACT ON ART HISTORY
The Igbo-Ukwu bronzes amazed the world with a very high level of technical and
artistic proficiency and sophistication which was at this time distinctly more
advanced than bronze casting in Europe. Peter Garlake compares the Igbo-Ukwu
bronzes "to the finest jewelry of rococo Europe or of Carl Faberge," and William

Buller Fagg states they were created with "a strange rococo almost Faberge type
virtuosity." Frank Willett says that the Igbo-Ukwu bronzes portray a standard that
is comparable to that established by Benvenuto Cellini five hundred years later in
Europe. Denis Williams calls them "an exquisite explosion without antecedent or
issue." One of the objects found, a water pot set in a mesh of simulated rope is
described by Hugh Honour and John Fleming as
A virtuoso feat of cire perdue (lost wax) casting. Its elegant design and refined
detailing are matched by a level of technical accomplishment that is notably more
advanced than European bronze casting of this period.
The high technical proficiency and lack of known prototypes of the Igbo-Ukwu
bronzes led to initial speculation in the academic community that they must have
been created after European contact and phantom voyagers were postulated.
However research and isotope analysis has established that the source of the metals
is of local origin and radio carbon dating has confirmed a 9th-century date, long
before the earliest contact with Europe. The Igbo-Ukwu artifacts did away with the
hitherto existing colonial era opinions in archeological circles that such
magnificent works of art and technical proficiency could only originate in areas
with contact to Europe, or that they could not be crafted in an acephalous or
egalitarian society such as that of the Igbo. Some of the glass and carnelian beads
have been found to be produced in Old Cairo at the workshops of Fustat thus
establishing that trade contacts did exist between Igbo-Ukwu and ancient Egypt.
Archaeological sites containing iron smelting furnaces and slag have been
excavated dating to 2000BC in Lejja and 750BC in Opi both in Nsukka region
about 100 Kilometers east of Igbo-Ukwu

METALLURGY
Apparently the metal workers of ancient Igbo-Ukwu were not aware of commonly
used techniques such as wire making, soldering or riveting which suggests an
independent development and long isolation of their metal working tradition. It is
therefore perplexing that they were able to create objects with such fine surface
detail that they depict, for example small insects which seem to have landed on the
surface. Though these appear to have been riveted or soldered on to the artifacts,
they were actually cast in one piece. The Grove Encyclopedia of Materials and
Techniques in Art describes them as being "among the most inventive and
technically accomplished bronzes ever made." Although the lost wax casting
process was used to produce the bronzes, latex was probably used in Igbo-Ukwu
instead of beeswax which would explain how the artists were able to produce such
fine and filigrann surface detail. Some of the techniques used by the ancient smiths
are not known to have been used outside Igbo-Ukwu such as the production of
complex objects in stages with the different parts later fixed together by brazing or
by casting linking sections to join them. However the complexity of some of the
Igbo-Ukwu objects has led to considerable altercation between various metallurgic
experts and debates regarding the actual production process which is an affidavit
for the highly developed and intricate work of the ancient artists.
The composition of the metal alloys used in the production of the bronze is unique,
with an unusually high silver content and is distinct from alloys used in Europe, the
Mediterranean or other African bronze centers. The origin of the metal ore used to
produce the bronze has been located to old mines in Abakiliki about 100 kilometers
from Igbo-Ukwu.