THE CONTRIBUTION OF INDIGENOUS TECHNOLOGY TO BENIN ECONOMY A CASE STUDY OF BRONZE CASTING
This essay examines the contribution of indigenous technology to Benin economy. Essentially, this study will be based on the origin of bronze casting in Benin and its contribution to the economy. Benin, which was one of the most powerful Kingdom in West Africa before the coming of the European is gied with rich cultural and traditional art works. It flourished as a city state from the 13th century until the British punitive expenditure of 1897 which saw the looting of Benin art works in it’s multitude to Europe and other parts of the world. Bronze casting in Benin staed to take its full shape in 1280 A.D during the reign of Oba Oguola. Benin is said to have derived it’s arts of bronze casting from Ife in the 14th Century. This statement leads us to Igueghae story; as the bronze caster who went to learn this art of casting in Ife. However, the lost wax (cire perdue) method of bronze casting had been known earlier in Benin and the works from Benin were more stylized than that of Ife.
Bronze was already a universal value and enjoyed great respectability among all groups, all people, in all cultures in Benin kingdom before bronze casting actually became one of the professionalized royal cras
in Benin Kingdom. Bronze was always a royal ornament for power, splendour, for adornment and was
so valued that even the image of the Oba, both past and present could proudly be represented in it. In Benin nation, Bronze was generally regarded as precious and because it was precious, it was considered incorruptible. It could neither rust nor rot.
In Benin-city, the bronze sculptors were mainly for the sovereign (the palace). The palace was the Chief patron of the group, reciprocally, the palace paid in kind to the group members that were involved in bronze casting and paid also for services including technical expertise. The crasmen also received protection as a monopoly of the cra.
The plague represented scenes from the life of the Benin Peasant, warriors, musicians and also important events that took place in the palace. In pre-colonial time, was implements, household utensils were made of brass. Those bronze casters just like other guild system in Benin had a specific area where they are settled and they had their own guild name in which they are known. They are organized on a family basis and a non family member cannot be a member of the guild. This guild quarter of bronze casters is still in existence in Igun Street present day in Benin. It is referred to as the “Home of Bronze”.
1.2 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This study on “the contribution of Indigenous technology to Benin economy, a case study of Bronze Casting will focus on the Benin Bronze Casting. In other words, this study is an attempt to give a comprehensive understanding of the artistic excellence of the Benin bronze casting and its stylistic differences from other tradition of Africa.The researcher’s purpose is to show ho much we really know about ancient Benin and thereby take stock of our present knowledge providing a firmer basis for future research on bronze casting to Nigeria and even the world culture development. Bearing in mind that the art of bronze casting was and is still a family air, it is of advantage to study the traditional local technique and find the possible
ways of improving this. It is through a research of this nature that this objective can be achieved.
This project is also aimed at how the of bronze casting in the olden- days have been utilized on various aspect of production by the people of Benin and their own unique style and how bronze was used to document events in the preliterate Benin economy.