The Fon people of West Africa live in an area now known as Benin. They practised ancestor worship. Their altars, which were placed in family shrines as memorials to the dead, consisted of a forged iron staff with a round platform on top. Bronze miniature depictions of the deceased, servants, sacrificial animals and all sorts of objects were riveted to the top of the platform. The miniatures were made by using the ‘cire perdue’ (lost wax) method and therefore each one of them is unique. First a miniature altar figure was made from bees wax which was then covered with clay. When the clay was hardened in a fire, the wax melted and ran out through holes made in the clay. By pouring molten bronze in the empty shell, an exact replica of the original bees wax figure was made which after cooling down and removing the clay was attached to the iron tableau of the altar staff. Most of the iron altars did not withstand the test of time but the bronze miniatures have survived. The majority of the Fon bronzes in our collection date from early 20th century.