was the mother of King Esigie, a well known warrior oba (king) in Benin
City. He was the first oba to speak any non-native language
(Portugese), living around 1504 AD. The Portugese first arrived
in the Benin Kingdom around 1485, and a knowledge of Portugese was very
important in dealing with these new trading partners from the west.
Queen Idia was a great warrior who fought to maintain the empire of her
son. She bore the title of Iyoba of Uselu, as she was the direct
ruler of the Uselu region. In one particular story Benin was at
war with the Idah people. Queen Idia's troops were instrumental
in the defeat of the Idah. She fought like a man, was brave and
powerful. She is a symbol of woman’s liberation.
typical representation of Queen Idia is that of a warrior. We
have works that portray both her warrior side, and her fantastically
feminine side. It shows a women who has it all, power, skill,
loyalty, and feminine beauty.
the first picture this mask of Queen Idia shows the warriors she
vanquished along the top of her headdress. This mask, carved by
S. E. Owie, has already sold.
second picture is a bust of Queen Idia by the same artist. Notice
the obvious beauty and strength of character in the face. This is
one of my personal favorites. It really shows that we all have
multiple dimensions and whenever we look at someone in only one way we
are likely missing out. To see more pictures of the bust, just click on it.