This book demonstrates that copper-alloy casting was widespread in southern Nigeria and has been practiced for at least a millennium.
Philip M. Peek’s research provides a critical context for the better-known casting traditions of Igbo-Ukwu, Ife, and Benin. Both the necessary ores and casting skills were widely available, contrary to previous scholarly assumptions. The majority of the Lower Niger Bronzes, which we know number in the thousands, are of subjects not found elsewhere, such as leopard skull replicas, grotesque bell heads, ritual objects, and humanoid figures. Important puzzle pieces are now in place to permit a more complete reconstruction of southern Nigerian history.
The book will be of interest to scholars working in art history, African studies, African history, and anthropology.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Fagg’s Prophecy, Previous Research, and Lower Niger Bronze Forms 2. Historical and Ethnographic Background 3. Southern Nigerian Copper-Alloy Components, Sources, and Analyses 4. Manillas and Bracelets 5. Replicas, Skeumorphs, and Vessels 6. The Ọvọ/Ọfọ/Ovuo Complex 7. Human and Humanoid Figures 8. Heads, Faces, and Costume Masks 9. Leopard Skulls, Ram’s Heads, Hippopotami, and Other Creatures 10. "Pectorals, Hip Ornaments, and Waist Pendants" or Pendant Plaques 11. Bells and Bell Heads 12. Scepter Finials and the "Aro Knot" 13. "Tsoede Bronzes," "Enowe’s Girdle," and "Death Rings" - More Mysteries 14. The End Game: Possible Solutions for an Ongoing Puzzle
Philip M. Peek is Professor Emeritus at Drew University and a Research Associate at the Smithsonian Institution. He has also previously edited African Folklore: An Encyclopedia, with Kwesi Yankah (Routledge, 2004).