TERA Gallery - African Art and Antiquities

"Altering The Way You View The World Of Art"
METALWORKS
These forged iron masks, figures, lamps, weapons, ritual objects, tools and other
artifacts exhibit the technical skill and artistry that the African blacksmiths brought to
their work. They would do the smelting to get the iron from iron ore, then heat and
hammer out both the tools and objects.

The blacksmith who forged the iron was both held in technical awe and feared as he
made iron with fire after converting the ore into iron and then shaping it into
functional forms.  As an intermediary between opposing life forces,  the blacksmiths
assists others to navigate these forces by supplying the necessary tools and
devotional objects. He was thus someone who manipulated the forces of nature
through ritual, skill and secret knowledge.

Though evidence exists that copper was worked in Africa 500 years before iron, it
appears that both technologies spread nearly concurrently across the continent
between 500 BC and 500 AD.  Copper production has always held the smaller share
of metalworking production and was reserved for ornamentation and prestige
objects that celebrate rites and passage and rituals of empowerment and protection.