Sunday 28 April 2024


The lost wax technique, also known as cire-perdue, is a complex and ancient method used in Ifẹ bronze making, as well as in various other artistic traditions around the world. Here's a breakdown of the process:

(1). Creating the Original Model: Skilled artisans first create a detailed model of the desired sculpture using materials such as clay, wax, or a combination of both. This model captures the intricate details and features of the final bronze piece.

(2). Coating in Clay: The model is then coated with several layers of fine clay, which forms a mold around the original sculpture. This clay mold will later serve as the outer mold for the bronze casting.

(3). Melting Away the Wax: The entire mold is heated in a kiln or through other means to melt and remove the wax, leaving behind a hollow cavity in the shape of the original model. This cavity represents the space where molten bronze will be poured later.

(4). Preparation for Casting: Once the wax is melted out, the mold is reinforced and prepared for casting by adding vents and gates that allow the molten metal to flow evenly throughout the mold during casting.

(5). Bronze Casting: Molten bronze, often heated to extremely high temperatures, is poured into the prepared mold. The bronze fills the hollow cavity left by the melted wax, taking the shape of the original model and capturing all its intricate details.

(6). Cooling and Demolding: After the bronze has cooled and solidified within the mold, the outer clay mold is broken away or carefully removed, revealing the newly cast bronze sculpture inside.

(7). Finishing and Detailing: Skilled artisans then work on the bronze sculpture, refining details, smoothing surfaces, and adding any additional features or decorations as required to achieve the desired final appearance.

This meticulous and time-consuming process results in stunning bronze artworks that showcase not only the artistic skill of the craftsmen but also the technological sophistication of ancient civilizations like Ifẹ. The intricacy and realism achieved through the lost wax technique are particularly notable in Ifẹ bronze heads and sculptures, showcasing a mastery of metalworking and artistic expression.

Benin bronze casting techniques, while sharing a foundational similarity with the lost wax process, also incorporated their unique artistic styles, designs, and cultural motifs, setting them apart as distinct and highly esteemed artworks.


The superiority of Ifẹ bronze heads over Benin bronze is widely acknowledged, even among Benin scholars. In terms of realism, Ifẹ bronze artistry far exceeds that of Benin, capturing such lifelike details that one cannot help but marvel at the genius behind these masterpieces.

Moreover, evidence suggests that Ifẹ bronzes predate those from Benin, lending credence to the perspective of historians like Jacob Eghareva, who argue that Benin likely acquired their bronze-making techniques from Ifẹ. This historical context not only enhances our appreciation of Ifẹ bronze craftsmanship but also sheds light on the intricate cultural exchanges and influences among ancient West African civilizations.

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