The Story of Queen Mother Idia

The Story of Queen Mother Idia

Apr 29, 2024Abi oye
In the annals of history, there are figures whose stories echo through the ages, their legacies enduring long after their time. Among them stands Idia, a woman of remarkable courage, intelligence, and leadership. Married to Oba Ozolua, king of the Benin Kingdom, her life unfolds as a tale of resilience, determination, and unwavering loyalty to her people.

Little is known about Idia's early years, but her narrative begins to take shape as a young woman who captured the heart of Oba Ozolua. As his queen, she wielded influence and held a position of prominence in the kingdom. But it was during the tumultuous period following Ozolua's passing that Idia truly rose to prominence.

With the kingdom plunged into chaos as Ozolua's sons vied for succession, Idia emerged as a pivotal figure. She threw her support behind her son Esigie, who controlled Benin City, and took the extraordinary step of leading the army into battle. In a time when women rarely ventured onto the battlefield, Idia shattered conventions and proved herself a fearless and capable military strategist.

Guided by her wisdom, Esigie emerged victorious in the power struggle, reclaiming control of the kingdom and thwarting external threats, such as the incursion of the Igala people. Idia's contributions were indispensable, her knowledge of medicine and mystical powers complementing her tactical acumen on the battlefield.

In recognition of her pivotal role in his ascension to power, Esigie bestowed upon Idia a new title: Iyoba, or queen mother. This position elevated her to a position of authority within the court, granting her political privileges and the right to commission works of art. Idia's influence extended far beyond the confines of the palace, earning her the epithet of "the hidden Oba of Benin."

One of the most enduring tributes to Idia's legacy is the series of pendant masks commissioned by Esigie in her honor. Crafted with exquisite detail from elephant ivory, iron, and copper alloy, these masks serve as enduring symbols of her strength and leadership. Though currently housed in museums far from their place of origin, the calls for their repatriation echo the broader movement to reclaim cultural heritage unjustly seized in the past.

Today, Idia stands as a symbol of empowerment and resilience, her story resonating with people around the world. At LIHA, we draw inspiration from her legacy, honoring her memory with a scent that captures her spirit and celebrates her enduring impact. Idia's journey from warrior queen to revered icon serves as a testament to the power of women to shape history and inspire generations to come.

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