Benin Kingdom Leadership Regalia

by Kathy Curnow
Cleveland State University

Chief Osague sacrificing to ancestors associated with the land, Benin KingdomNigeria, 1994. Photo by Kathy Curnow.


Here the chief offers sacrifices to the kingdom's ancestors, represented by the wooden ukhurhe.  All present pray with and for him, and shout instructions for his next actions.  Resting momentarily, an attendant fans him.  The same hereditary palace guild that constructs costume elements makes leather goods like fans as well.  Its surface decorations vary according to the owner's status as ruler, royal, chief, priest, or other.  Although fans are certainly used to cool, they can also function in incantations.