Nigerian arts and crafts are two symbolic aspects of the cultural diversity that makes up the nation of Nigeria. A country of over 500 ethnic groups, Nigeria has an avalanche of arts and crafts materials that contribute to its multicultural nature and outlook.
Nigerian arts and crafts do not only represent the different cultures in Nigeria, but they are also beautiful. They are highly regarded in the international space. In Africa and the rest of the world, Nigerian arts and crafts are highly placed as historical and cultural artefacts in museums, arts and cultural centres.
A critical study of Nigerian arts and crafts further portrays the peculiarity of the rich history and culture of the different ethnic groups in Nigeria. From the Hausa/Fulani in the North, the Yoruba in the South West, the Benin arts in the Niger Delta, to the Igbo in the South East, arts and crafts have always been part of the cultural heritage of the peoples of Nigeria. Below are some of the most prominent Nigerian arts and crafts.
Sculptures are an important part of Nigerian arts and crafts. Dating back to pre-colonial Nigeria, Nigerian sculptural arts have been an integral part of the culture, tradition and religion of Nigerian people. Created in different forms and styles using other materials, Nigerian sculptures are an accurate representation of the beauty and diversity in Nigerian arts and crafts.
The Ife head which is a sculpture from the ancient city of Ife in modern-day Ogun State is one of the most popular sculptures in Nigeria. The Ife head and other similar sculptures are created to look like human heads and are made from materials like bronze, terracotta or stones.
The Nok culture is another popular Nigerian sculptural art. Originating from the Northern part of the country, this art form was particularly popular between 500 BCE to 200 CE. Mostly created from terracotta, they are carved in human and animal figures.
Wood carving is one of the prominent Nigerian arts and crafts. Nigerian wood carvers make use of wood to create beautiful sculptures and carvings. These woods are mostly local woods like ebony, mahogany and iroko. These trees are carved into intricate designs like masks and other objects.
The Igbo Ukwu bronze art is one of the foremost Nigerian wood carvings. This art originated in the 9th century from the southeastern parts of the country. It is part of the Igbo culture and it is one of the finest arts in West Africa.
Aside from sculptures and masks, Nigerian wood carvers also create doors, stools and musical instruments. These objects are designed to reflect the unique culture of the people. Nigerian wood carvings are highly regarded and are sold in both local and international markets.
The Yoruba of southwestern Nigeria are credited for Adire which is a local textile dyeing method. In Yoruba, adire means tied and dyed and it is a technique that is used to create beautiful patterns on cloth.
Historically, adire was exclusively used to create intricate designs for special occasions and festivities. However, recently it has become a technique that is been used in the Nigerian fashion space. The adire method has also become a popular technique as it is now used around the world to create beautiful patterns and designs.
Pottery is a prominent component of Nigerian arts and crafts. With a rich history, this art form is a proper representation of the multicultural structure of Nigeria. Comprising unique styles, techniques and designs, Nigerian pottery paints a clear picture of the country’s diversity, artistic and cultural heritage.
The history of Nigerian pottery can be traced to 500 BC and the first forms were made by the Nok culture. These arts were created in human and animal forms and served different purposes such as burial, ancestor worship and functional household tools.
After the Nok culture was the Udu pottery. These potteries were done by the Igbo and were mostly created using the hands with beautiful patterns. They were mostly pots and were used as storage and musical instruments.
The Yoruba also created what we know today as bead-covered pottery. These were pots made by using beads to cover the surfaces of clay pots. These pots were used to decorate and also serve ceremonial purposes.
Beadwork as a Nigerian art and craft has been around for centuries. Dating as far back as the Nok Culture, between 900 BC to 2000 AD, Nigerian beads have always had economic value as well as added an artistic expression to Nigerians.
As a multicultural nation, Nigerian beads have played significant symbolic roles in expressing the divergent identities of these cultures. Historically, beads were used to express class, social influence and royalty. They were also an indication of wealth among the religious and traditional strata of the society.
Among the different ethnic groups in Nigeria, beads serve different purposes. The Yoruba use the beadwork to create kingly crowns and also for ceremonial wear. Also, the Yoruba have what we called the Yelede mask which is used to identify women of influence in the society. The Igbo use beads to decorate and adorn their masquerades. The Edo people wear coral beads as necklaces and also use them to create crowns. You can check Naijapackage.com for the best beadwork.
This is one of the most important Nigerian arts and crafts. Brass work is most popular in the southern part of Nigeria. Brass’s work goes as far back as the 9th century.
The Benin Bronze still stands as one of the most popular brass works in Nigeria. The Benin Bronze is a collection of sculptures and plaques carved from metal in the now-defunct Benin Kingdom. These art forms existed between the 13th and 19th centuries and were created using the lost wax casting method.
The Benin Bronze was a collection of subjects depicting warriors, royalty and animals. These subjects were used in religious and ceremonial functions. In recent times, most of the Benin Bronze sculptures are in museums and galleries all over the world.
This is an art form that is part of the Nigerian arts and crafts. Weaving has been in practice all over the country for centuries. As an art form, it involves the process of interlacing threads
Among the ethnic groups in Nigeria, the Yoruba are mostly known for their love for weaving. To them, it is an important tradition that has become a part of their daily experience. Using cotton, raffia and wool, the Yoruba have been creating intricate designs, especially the Aso Oke style.
The Hausa people of northern Nigeria are also another ethnic group that has an interest in weaving. They make rugs, mats and blankets from cotton and wool. They also combine grass and other materials to create beautiful baskets.
The Nupe people also in the northern part of the country are another ethnic group that is into weaving. With a unique style of weaving called Gbagyi, they create beautiful geometric patterns.
The Igbo of southeastern Nigeria are also into weaving. Regarded as skilful weavers, they make fabrics, mats and baskets using raffia.
The last art form on this list of Nigerian arts and crafts is leatherwork. Nigerian leather work started as far back as pre-colonial times. This art form is carried in diverse forms and includes creating designs like bags, shoes, bags, belts etc. These leather works are created in different colours, designs and patterns. Though mostly carried out by small-scale artisans, the quality of Nigerian leatherwork has attracted both local and international consumers. This is also a reliable source of income for many Nigerians.
Conclusively, it will be important to reiterate that Nigerian arts and crafts have played significant roles in promoting the beauty, diversity and cultural heritage of Nigeria. From leather works, bead works, pottery, and weaving to brass work, these art forms have given the country a unique identity both locally and internationally. It is highly imperative these Nigerian arts and crafts are protected and also passed from one generation to the other.