The Origin and Development of the Guild of Bronze Casters of Benin Kingdom up to 1914

  • Ese Vivian Odiahi
Keywords: Bronze casters, Brass, Invasion of Benin kingdom


The Benin Kingdom is one of the forest kingdoms located in West Africa which became famous for its arts, especially its art of bronze casting. The art of bronze casting flourished under the guild system established by Oba Oguola in 1280AD. The guild of bronze casters was the most important guild that existed in the kingdom partly because of its function of preserving the history of the kingdom in bronze for posterity sake. A role it continued to play until the late 19th century when Benin kingdom was invaded. The outcome of the invasion was the fizzling out of the guild system. The guild system was however reinstated in 1914, but only the guild of bronze casters was able to re-organise themselves well and remain however not without some changes and developments. This paper investigated the guild of bronze casters of Benin kingdom, an area that has not been given proper attention. It discussed the guild from its inception in the thirteenth century to the changes and developments that took in the guild up to the twentieth century.

Key words: Bronze casters, Brass, Invasion of Benin kingdom