Quenn Idia  
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Queen Idia

She 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.

The 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. 

In 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.

The 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.