Art and Rule in the Benin Kingdom

by Barbara W. Blackmun
Professor Emeritus, San Diego Mesa College

Brassworkers from the Iguneronmwon, Royal brasscasters’ Guild, Benin City, Nigeria, February 1982. Photo by Barbara W. Blackmun.


Here the brass figure of an elder and a small bust of the Oba have been removed from their clay molds, and are being filed to a smooth finish.  Filing is a modern addition to the process, as the art produced by the earlier brasscasters was so precise that it was never touched with a file.  Nevertheless, many of Benin’s contemporary craftsmen produce work that is worthy of their ancient reputation.