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Some authorities have simply described the Igboukwu Roped Pot as the most intricate bronze sculpture ever fabricated by man. Attention to symmetry and details in the finishing is astounding. And many more artifacts like these were manufactured in the heartland of Alaigbo when most of present-day Europe was in the Dark Ages. The question that readily comes to mind is; who were these masters, what inspired them to take the time, effort and patience to create objects like these? The hollow spirals at base of the vase have close resemblance to the milky way galaxy.

An international archeological connoisseur, on closely reviewing the Igboukwu Bronze collections, testified thus:

"It is possible that the inhabitants of Igbo-Ukwu had a metalworking art that flourished as early as the ninth century. Three sites have been excavated, revealing hundreds of ritual vessels and regalia castings of bronze or leaded bronze that are among the most inventive and technically accomplished bronzes ever made. The people of Igbo-Ukwu, ancestors of present-day Igbo, were the earliest smithers of copper and its alloys in West Africa, working the metal through hammering, bending, twisting, and incising. They are likely among the earliest groups of West Africans to employ the lost-wax casting techniques in the production of bronze sculptures."

For the effort deployed in making these masterpieces, like this bowl-on-a-stand composite, experts believe that these are not just everyday household items. But they could be for exclusive use of a very wealthy and powerful person as corroborated by similar items excavated at the burial chamber of an ancestral Igbo noble man. Intricate design of external finishes is precise to the minutest of detail. Igboukwu bronze work predates the Ife and Benin counterparts by, at least 2 centuries. Isotope studies show that the raw materials used by master-craftsmen of these distinct bronze cultures were different.
The most amazing of the large bronze pieces, in terms of surface detail, is the snail shell-shaped vessel with a mounted leopard. Closer viewing of fine artwork reveals images of animals and insects amongst the bands of variegated patterns that cover the entire object.
The bowl with handle was finished with bands of interwoven horizontal and vertical bars in pattern of basket weave. The scarified-face sculpture is a pendant possibly won by titled persons. Facial scarification can still be seen in Alaigbo today. It has been regarded as a mark of nobility and wealth. This piece affirms that many sociocultural practices of this generation of Ndiigbo could have persevered for thousands of years. Similar face pendants are still won today by traditional rulers within Alaigbo and surrounding former kingdoms of Benin, to the west and Igalla, to the northwest. Bronze fly-whisk handle, remnant of a fly-whisk with non-metal flexible strands, is exquisitely rendered with miniature human figure on horseback. These findings portray components of the opulent regalia of an ancient Igbo titled man.
Above is an artist's illustration of what the ancestral Igbo noble man's burial chamber looked like at the peak of the Igboukwu Bronze era. Elephant tusk, finished with intricate carving and hollowed out to function as a horn, is lying on the chamber floor. The metal staff of office or rank is standing, left of the seated man, impelled into the wooden platform. Elaborate dress adorned with decorated cap and beads of sundry forms and colorations indicate the superfluous wealth of the deceased. There are suggestions, when the chamber was first unearthed, that this dead ancestor was buried with some of his slaves or servants and other cherished possessions.

Osondu
The Survival Struggle for Ndiigbo

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