Art and Rule in the Benin Kingdom
by Barbara W. Blackmun
Professor Emeritus, San Diego Mesa College
The leader of the hereditary Igbesanmwan is the Ineh, who has mastered styles and motifs that have been taught for centuries by the elders of each generation of ivory carvers. The most important ancestral altar tusks are entirely covered with figures and emblems alluding to Edo history, mythology, and philosophy. These tusks, which are sacred, have been commissioned by the Oba for his ancestral shrines.