Saturday, September 12, 2009

Iron Melting ~



Ajala just sent this image of another of his father's batiks. I think it is a masterpiece! The batik (wax resist, indigo and plant dyes on cotton) is titled "Iron Melting". It depicts the collection and melting of scrap iron, part of the festival for Ogun, the orisa of iron, and so Ajala tells me, one of the biggest events of the year for the Yoruba people.

Here's what Ajala wrote to me:

IRON MELTING IS ONE OF THE GREATES FESTIVAL IN YORUBA LAND.PEOPLE WILL COME AND CELEBRATE IT,THEY WILL EAT,DRINK AND DANCE AND ENJOY THERE SELF.THE NAME OF THE ELDER IS "AYOGUN-UN(PEOPLE WHO MELT IRON)"ALL THE YOUNTH WILL NOW BEEN CARRYING THE IRON TO THE POINT WHERE THEY WILL MELT IT.THEY WILL DO THIS TILL 7 DAYS.IN THE EVENT THE ELDER WILL NOW PUT ON OGUN'S CLOTH AND DANCE AROUND THE TOWN,THE PEOPLE WILL BE GIVING THEM MONEY,THIS MONEY THAT THEY COLLECT IS THE ONE THEY WILL USE TO FEED THE YOUNTH.THIS IRON MELTING FESSTIVAL,THEY DO IT EVERY YEAR.THE IRON THAT THEY MELT FOR THAT YEAR IS THE ONE THEY WILL USE FOR THE WHOLE YEAR.DURING THIS FESTIVAL,THE KIDS WILL LEARN A LOT.

The history of the forge in Yorubaland is very ancient, going back into prehistory, & of course the forging of metal tools and weapons marks a turning point in how humans get things done. The people of Nigeria developed very refined skills of metal working ~ witness the so-called "Ife Bronzes" - heads cast in bronze, circa 1100, using the "lost wax" method, found in and around Ile Ife, the old capital.

(Here's an interesting interactive image of one such: http://www.hunterian.gla.ac.uk/contact/staff/jdevine/ife.shtml )

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