Art and Rule in the Benin Kingdom

by Barbara W. Blackmun
Professor Emeritus, San Diego Mesa College

Ohen Omosede Iyoriovbe Igharo and her assistants, Priestess of Olokun and Shango, Olokun Shrine, Benin City, Nigeria, January 1982. Photo by Barbara W. Blackmun.


Ohen Igharo is assisted by an attendant who wears a red wrapper honoring Shango, the temperamental deity of thunder and lightning. On the left, another attendant holds a bowl of powdered orhue, pure white kaolin chalk that symbolizes coolness, peace, and spiritual harmony. The bell resting inside the bowl is used to summon spiritual forces during worship.