The opulent usage of beads and jewelry by the Benin clan sets them apart. One started to question the purpose of such decoration given everything we know about its monumental worth.
One of the earliest empires to rule the planet was the Benin Kingdom. A powerful force that the white invaders threw into disarray and hostility became a legend among the older age.
According to history, Oba Ewuare, who lived in the 1400s AD, is credited with collecting some of these beads from the “goddess of the Sea” at Ughoton (Gwatto) Benin River and bringing them to Benin.
The gateway the Europeans used back then was Ughoton. Some of these rare beads may have been given to Oba by the White man, notably the Portuguese and Spaniards. Their interactions and trade had a significant impact, particularly on the fashion and costume industries.
The Ivie and Ekan bead varieties are the two that the Edo people most frequently utilize. They are both members of the Coral family.
These corals are formed of Phylum coelenterate or Cnidarian, which are polished coral stones that have been extracted from the ocean. Ekan has a stone-like appearance and a grayish color. Ivie, on the other hand, is crucial to the people of Edo. It is referred to as valuable coral and is worn by chiefs. It has a hardcore that can be polished to reveal lovely shades of crimson, rose, or pink.
The Mediterranean and Japanese Seas’ bush-like formations have been reported to support the growth of a priceless coral.
The Oba of Benin had authority over the use of Ivie and Ekan. You cannot wear certain shapes unless you are a chief. When compared to those from the North of Nigeria, coral beads used in Edo-speaking regions are particularly unusual.
It is known from historical accounts that some chiefs have been punished by being forbidden by royal edict from donning either Ivie or Ekan. Benin’s Chief Oliha is one illustration. When the Idah army besieged Benin City and Oba Esigie and his queen mother Idia led the Edo soldiers to victory, it was a penalty for cooperating with the Attah of Igala in Idah.
For being unfaithful and haughty, Oba Akenzua II confiscated the beaded headpiece and the majority of the beads belonging to Chief Okorotun, the then-Iyase of Benin, in the 1940s. Ada was taken away from him as well.
Whether you like it or not, receiving a bead or beads from an Oba of benin indicates only one thing: “You are being made a chief.” It is an unpardonable offense to reject a bead that has been sent to you by the palace. You have in some manner turned into the Oba’s opponent, or “Oghian Oba.”
For this reason, Edo couples frequently utilize these priceless beads on their wedding day. The bride and her husband are the most significant people on this day, therefore it connotes primarily persona and distinctiveness from those who have been invited.