Bida brass, silver and metal wares are well known throughout Nigeria. During the reign of Etsu Usman Zaki in the 18th century, brass and metal works in the Nupe kingdom, particularly the Bida area, flourished. Today, the craft struggles to survive.
The beautiful brass objects have a humble beginning. Traditional blacksmith techniques are the foundation of producing brass, silver or metal products. This is a group effort as with the glassmaker and the blacksmith. Each man has a particular skill; it may be melting the metal, hammering object into a shape, or design.
In the video, scrap aluminum is being melted to produce spoons and kitchenware. By using hand operated bellows to heat charcoal fire, the metal melts quickly. The molten liquid is poured with great care into a mold. After cooling the metal it is cut into required sizes; the metal is beaten into shapes over an anvil. The objects are decorated with patterns that are created spontaneously and without a sketch or drawing. A tool that resembles a nail is used for the design and then the object is polished.
***Nigeria is often in the news — often the news is not good, however this article centers the spotlight on Nigerians, the culture and their good work to keep traditional crafts alive. Throughout the developing world, heritage crafts need support, if not, the ancient techniques will vanish only to be read about in a dusty old book. Please support heritage crafts wherever and whenever possible. By doing so you help preserve ancient techniques, encourage skills and apprenticeships, and support the local economy.***
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