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Neglected Igbo-Ukwu Bronzes get new life at Nigerian museum

LAGOS (Reuters): At the National Museum in Lagos, workers carefully remove rust and patina from Igbo-Ukwu Bronze artefacts, part of restoration work on some of Nigeria’s oldest but lesser known collections.

The Igbo-Ukwu, which date back to the 9th century according to the museum, were discovered in 1939 in southeastern Anambra state, part of the region inhabited by the Igbo people.

Some of the artefacts include intricately designed bowls, pots, vases and shells.

Their restoration comes at a time when there is uncertainty about the return of thousands of the more famous Benin Bronzes from museums and collectors abroad.

In March, President Muhammadu Buhari decreed that all returned Benin Bronzes that were looted from the ancient Benin kingdom should be in the custody of a royal ruler in modern day Benin city, southwestern Nigeria. That led a British university to postpone the return of more than 100 artefacts.

At the museum in Lagos, curator Omotayo Adeboye said she considered the Igbo-Ukwu “masterpieces of creativity and indigenous craftsmanship.”