Benin Kingdom Leadership Regalia

by Kathy Curnow
Cleveland State University

Chief Osague’s thanksgiving ceremony, Benin KingdomNigeria, 1994. Photo by Kathy Curnow.


Once a chief has proved himself, he will go through a third palace ceremony, often referred to as "thanksgiving."  This usually takes place two to three years after the confirmation, and is more display-oriented than earlier visits.  Accompanied by an entourage of family members and followers, the chief will proceed to the palace on foot.  City traffic stops for these events, which involve drummers, gongs, rattles, song and dance.  A large parasol--either the older velvet/brocade type or an imported patio version as shown here--marks the chief's progress through the town.  As the focus of attention and a representative of the Oba, he is obliged to dazzle onlookers by the size of his crowd, his dress, and general splendor.