The story of Marvel comic’s Black Panther is an interesting fictional story which weaves together and draws on multiple fascinating factual elements found throughout various African cultures throughout time. Perhaps the most important of the facts and themes in the story of the Black Panther is the significance of Metallurgy and Blacksmiths in African culture, spiritual systems, and technological development.
The Story of Black Panther and Wakanda
10,000 years ago a meteorite comprised of a metal called Vibranium crashed on earth and landed in the country of Wakanda in Northeastern Africa. The crashed Vibranium created a mountain, or mound, which was discovered by the Panther Tribe in Wakanda who became the guardians of the Vibranium mound. Bast and Sekhmet are two of the feline deities of the Panther Tribe, and the King and protector of the Panther tribe is a warrior who holds the title of “The Black Panther”. The Black Panther also has a group of female warriors who serve as his personal bodyguards called the Dora Milaje. As guardians of the Vibranium metal mound, the Panther tribe became skilled blacksmiths and metallurgist in antiquity which translated into a highly technologically advanced and economically stable African country in the present day, where one of the major resources of the country of Wakanda is Vibranium. Because of their high level of advanced technology, Wakanda has never been conquered, colonized, or enslaved.
Metal from the Sky
The earliest known iron artifacts are 9 small beads, dated to 3200 BC, from Ancient Egypt in Northeast Africa, identified as meteoric iron shaped by careful hammering. This evidence shows the Ancient Africans in Egypt were the first to use Iron prior to the official start of the “Iron Age” in 1300 BC. The Ancient Egyptians called this Meteoric Iron “BAA EN PET” meaning “iron of the sky” or “metal of Heaven.” The Ancient Egyptian’s word for the Blacksmith’s Forge was “Khepesh”, and that same word was a homonym to the word for a scimitar sword shaped metal weapon casted in the forge, as well as to the constellation of the Great Bear - Ursa Major.
The Iron King:
The 7th Pharaoh of the Ancient Egypt’s 1st dynasty was named Anedjib Mer-ba-pen (spelled various in English as Merbiape, Meribiap, Merbapen, Miebîdós, and Mibampes) which literally meant “Lover of Iron”. Anedjib ruled around 2930 BC.
Ancient Africans in Egypt who were Blacksmiths and Metallurgists had knowledge of several different types of Metals and Metal alloys as attested to in the Medu Neter from Ancient Egypt:
- Meteoric Iron - baa en pet
- Iron - benpi
- Gold - Nub
- Silver - hetch
- Copper - hemt
- Tin, Lead - anak
- Electrum - nub waas
- Bronze - ut
The Blacksmith deity in Ancient Egypt was Ptah, who represented the Primordial Mound, and he had two wives Sekhmet (Southern Egypt) and Bast (Northern Egypt) represented by Felines. The Ancient Egyptian Blacksmith deity Ptah’s son by Bast was the Lion-Headed deity of war named Maahes, who was called Apedemak in Nubia and Meroe. The “Sem” priests of Ptah (who were more scientists than "priests") were also Blacksmiths and Metallurgists who wore Leopard Skins. The wearing of Leopard Skins was also a custom of the Nubians of Meroe, and the Nubian Kingdom of Meroe was huge Iron smelting capital. It is important to know that Panthers are Melanistic Leopards.
Overtime, various Leopard “Secret Societies” who were also Blacksmiths, spring up across the African Continent:
- Ekpe - Nigeria (uses the Nsibidi script)
- Abakuá - Cameroon and Nigeria
- Anyoto Aniota - Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, and Nigeria
- Leopard Society of Bassaland - Liberia (uses the Vai script)
Similar to the "Dwin - water spirits," the Mande, Bamana, and Dogon Blacksmiths of Mali tell stories of water Spirits called the Nommo who are Blacksmiths of a Metal from the star Sirius called SAGALA. The Mande Blacksmiths control a force called Nyama, which is synonymous with Nyame of the Akan people. An important Blacksmith ancestor in Akan culture is Nana Adade Kofi. The Mande Blacksmiths of Mali form Castes called Nummu which is phonetically similar to the Nommo water spirits spoken of by the Dogon Blacksmiths. One of the Nommo the Dogon Blacksmiths speak of is named OGO, who is synonymous with the Orisha Blacksmith OGUN in Nigeria. The Blacksmith culture in Nigeria has existed since 1000 BC with the NOK culture. The Blacksmith Orisha Ogun is called GU in the Dahomey culture of Benin. The Blacksmith Ogun, OGO, or GU is said to be married to the warrior Orisha OYA. The 19th century Kingdom of Dahomey (present day Benin) who were practitioners of the system of Vodun which ackknowledged Oya, developed an all-female military regiment who were an embodiment of the warrior Orisha OYA. This group of African Warrior Women had various names including N'Nonmiton or Mino (meaning "our mothers"), Ahosi (meaning King's wives), and Gbeto (meaning "Elephant Hunters"). European narratives referred to these women soldiers as Amazons. This “warrior Queen” characteristic found amongst the women of the Dahomey Kingdom was also found amongst the Kandakes, or Candaces, who ruled the Nubian Iron smelting city of Meroe (800 BC - 350 CE).
The Role of the Blacksmith has been central and integral to African Culture, Society, Spirituality, and Technology throught the ages, and the Leopard, Panther, or Feline has been one of the Symbols associated with African Blacksmiths since Ancient times