Tourism and Culture
Brass or Bronze
Casting is still made but there is nothing produced now to compare with the fabulous Ife and Benin Bronzes. These perfect example of portraiture and the "cire peerdue" method of casting, together with the equally perfect terracotta thought to be of the same period and possibly by the same craftsmen, have no equals anywhere.
Apart from the Benin and Ife bronzes, archaeological finds at Igbo-Ukwu, in Enugu State, have revealed advanced ancient works of art. The Igbo-Ukwu bronzes, which have elaborate intricate symmetrical designs, are as remarkable as the better-known Ife works.
Because grass is plentiful in the northern parts of Nigeria, northern craftsmen and women make grass baskets, fans, tables and floor mats. Some of the objects are beautifully colored and durable.
Though places like Benin and Awka are acknowledged as center of wood-carving, wood carvers have flourished all over southern Nigeria since time immemorial, making figures for shrines, portraiture, masks, representations of the spirits of the field, forest stream, earth, sea, sky, water, fire and thunder. The works of old carvers remain in many villages where they provide the villages with their shrines, utensils and ornaments to this day. Many of the older examples of these products are preserved in the national and other museums.
Ivory carvings have for many years adorned ancestral altars in Benin and the palaces of Nigerian rulers. Ivory carvings are also available in homes and offices as paper knives, inlaid cigar boxes, cigarette holders, ladies earrings, hatpins, necklaces, bangles, and innumerable small pieces of décor.
Glass and Metal Works
The metal works, glass beads and bangles of Bida are familiar articles to visitors to Nigeria. The bead makers in particular preserve their ancient skills as a family tradition. The metal workers were originally the armored of the north. Their art is now applied to the production of skillfully fashioned and decorated trays, bowls and pots rings, bangles and the like.