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Metalworking

 
- Steel making in Ethiopia
- A Smith's Workshop
- The Language of Metals
The Land
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Story
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Metals spoke of power

Smiths used strong, plentiful iron to make tools and weapons. Farmers broke soil with iron hoes; they cleared forests with iron axes. Warriors fought with iron spears and knives. And to give these everyday iron objects social meaning or power, smiths would embellish them with copper, brass or gold.

Valued metals conveyed special messages

Making an object almost entirely out of copper, brass, bronze or gold transformed it into an emblem of spiritual or political power. Valued metals represented weakness, strength or specific aspects of life. For instance, copper's reddish color often stood for blood - a symbol of birth and death. Its sheen repelled evil and attracted good forces.

 
Knife
Iron, wood, brass
Republic of the Congo
Before 1910
Dagger
Iron, zinc, copper over wood
The Congo
Before 1910
Stirrup
Brass
Hausa peoples, Cameroon
Before 1914
Bowl
Brass
Nupe peoples
Bida, Nigeria
1929
Spear Point
Iron
Eidegalla, Somalia
1896
Osiris Figure
Bronze
Egypt
2000-1800 B. C.
Armlet
Silver
Kabyle peoples, Algeria
1910
Padlock and Keys
Brass and aluminum padlock, brass keys
Tuareg peoples
Hoggar Mountains, Algeria
1925
Pipe
Brass
Bamum peoples, Cameroon
1914
Bracelet
Brass
Butschingu, Cameroon
1914
Spoon
Brass
Benin City, Nigeria
1929
Bracelet
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gold Weight
Brass
Ashanti peoples, Ghana
Before 1928

 

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