Yoruba Bronze Torque: The Emblem of Wealth and Social Prestige – Paulski Art

Yoruba Bronze Torque: The Emblem of Wealth and Social Prestige

What is the symbol of wealth where you come from? Do you know your roots? 

For centuries over, artists all over Africa have been shaping knowledge and material into works of unique historical significance. The artists of ancient Ife, the ancestral home of the Yoruba and the mythical birthplace of gods and men, were clearly interested in creating works that could be read and deciphered by their people. The Yoruba people, who are indigenous to Nigeria and parts of Benin and Togo, have a rich history of bronze casting. One of their most iconic forms of bronze artwork is the torque, a type of necklace or collar that is worn around the neck.

A Yoruba bronze torque is a type of traditional African jewelry worn around the neck. It is made of bronze, and typically features intricate designs and patterns. This ethnic Yoruba group from Nigeria, is known for their skill in creating these torques. In Yoruba culture, the torque is a symbol of prestige and wealth, and it is often worn by important figures such as kings, chiefs, and wealthy individuals. Owning a bronze torque reflected one's amassed wealth, and was used as a great display of social prestige.

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Yoruba bronze torques have been produced for centuries, and are highly valued for their craftsmanship, beauty, and cultural significance. They are considered to be an important art form and many are displayed in museums around the world. It is believed to be a representation of the gods and goddesses who are believed to have created the world. It is also used as a form of currency and as a bride price. In addition to its practical uses, the torque is also believed to have spiritual significance and is thought to protect the wearer from harm.

In the 19th century, the Yoruba people came into contact with European colonizers, who began to take an interest in their bronze artwork. Many Yoruba bronze torques were taken as souvenirs by European traders and collectors, and today they can be found in museums and private collections around the world. Bronze casting among the Yoruba people dates back to at least the 11th century CE. The technique used by the Yoruba is known as the lost-wax method, which involves creating a wax model of the desired object, covering it in clay, heating the clay to melt the wax, and then pouring molten bronze into the resulting mold. The clay is then broken away to reveal the bronze object.

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The heavy cast form was created by melting down manilla bracelets (open bracelets that served as another form of pre-coin currency), lesser currency pieces used by European traders for minor transactions. Also worn by women in certain ritual dances, torques are considered 'stored wealth' because they are made from the metal of numerous manillas. Individuals would take their accumulated manillas to blacksmiths to be melted down and recast into the much larger torques. Internally, manillas were the first true general-purpose currency known in West Africa, being used for ordinary market purchases, bride price, payment of fines, compensation of diviners, and for the needs of the next world, as burial money.

Despite the loss of many Yoruba bronze torques to European collectors, the tradition of bronze casting among the Yoruba people has remained strong. Today, Yoruba bronze artists continue to create beautiful and intricate works of art that are steeped in the culture and history of their people. One of the most notable features of Yoruba bronze torques is their elongated shape. This shape is thought to have been influenced by the form of the human neck, as well as the tradition of wearing beaded necklaces. The torques were also often adorned with intricate geometric patterns and images of animals, such as leopards and snakes, which were believed to have protective powers.

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You see… for many cultures in ancient Africa, spirituality was a vital part of their lives. It was not just a matter of faith, but also a way to connect with their ancestors and the forces of nature. Through rituals, ceremonies, and other spiritual practices, they sought to understand the mysteries of life and death. They believed that by understanding these mysteries, they could gain insight into the world around them and make better decisions for themselves and their communities. By exploring these spiritual aspects of ancient Africa through their handicrafts and artwork, we can gain insight into how people lived long ago and why spirituality is still important today.

Yoruba bronze torque is a traditional African art form that has been gaining popularity in interior design. It is a unique way to add style and personality to any room. In today’s contemporary society growing with an appreciation for ancient African art, symbolism and meaning; it’s no surprise that the Yoruba bronze torque is used more and more in home decor as people seek to bring an exotic and cultural flair into their homes.

The use of this art form can bring about many benefits such as creating a beautiful, one-of-a-kind look, increasing the value of the home, and providing a conversation piece for guests. It can be used in various ways such as wall hangings, sculptures, or even furniture pieces. With its unique beauty and cultural significance, Yoruba bronze torque will be sure to make an impact on interior design in 2023. Grab one or two from our shop today!