These endearing figurines were made in 2006 by brass casters Yaw Amankwa and George Kofi Dokyi of Kurofofurom, Ghana. They were manufacturing using the technique of lost-wax casting. A model is first shaped in beeswax. The artist then encloses the model in clay to form a mold. When the clay is heated the wax melts away and the mold is filled with molten brass (an alloy of copper and zinc), resulting in an exact replica of the original wax model. Once cooled, the model is broken to release the object, making each figure one of a kind. Lost-wax casting has a 500-year history in Ghana. Today, the village of Kurofofurom is particularly renowned for its many brass artisans. U-M professor Raymond Silverman and collaborator Gilbert Amegatcher (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology) made this collection of brass figures, wax models, and raw materials from more than a dozen Kurofofurom artists. They interviewed and filmed a number of brass workers, who shared insights on the significance and process of their craft.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.