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This statuette is handcrafted using the ancient lost wax method of casting bronze. Originating in the Middle East in the ninth century, lost wax is one of the first known methods of working with molten metal. The artisan sculpts wax, then coats it with clay and allows it to dry. Molten bronze is poured into the mold, melting the wax and allowing liquid bronze to fill the shape. After the metal cools, the artisan breaks the clay, revealing a one-of-a-kind figure.
HANDCRAFTED IN BURKINA FASO
Atelier de Bronze Bonkoungou et Frère specializes in the traditional technique of lost wax bronze casting. The workshop leader, Issouf Bonkoungou learned the ancient technique from his father and from a retired master artisan by the name of Sissao Hamidou whom Ten Thousand Villages began purchasing from in 1996. Mr. Hamidou was instrumental in the formation of the first artisan enterprise for bronze casting in the area, Antelier de Formation et de Promotion des Artisans in 2013 with aid from MCC Burkina Faso, a relief, development and peace agency of the North American Mennonite and Brethren in Christ. He continued training artisans in the craft and selling lost wax statues to Ten Thousand Villages until his retirement in 2021 when he passed the secure buying relationship on to Mr. Bonkoungou and Atelier de Bronze Bonkoungou. Ten Thousand Villages is the only advanced payment, bulk order buyer for Mr. Bonkoungou’s family and dozen other craftspeople working with him—fair trade has made a living wage possible in this marginalized area for more than two decades.