For the last 2,000 years metal has been smelted in Africa. Because of the complexity of the process which involves mining ore, producing high quality coal, building a furnace and finally, forging the iron, blacksmiths have held the highest positions in society and their works are considered the most valuable and powerful, at times with supernatural powers. 


Even though metalsmithing was admired and documented by early explorers and travelers to Africa, wood sculpture has taken a prominent place in art historical scholarship. As a consequence the study of metal works has been neglected and it is only now we begin to recognize their artistic and historical relevance.