Oba Mask - Queen Mother Idia - Scarab Club by Charles Ezra Ferrell

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Oba Mask - Queen Mother Idia - Scarab Club by 

Selected: Scrab Club Gallery – Gold Medal Exhibition, 2010

(An 18×24 Original in Pencil on Off-White Achival Paper ).The Benin Empire or Edo Empire (1440-1897) was a large pre-colonial African state of modern Nigeria. The palace of Benin is the center of ritual activity focused on the spiritual, mental, physical, social, political, and material well-being and prosperity of the Edo peoples.

Each year the Oba (King) of Benin performs in rituals that honors his royal ancestors to enhance the good fortunes of his people. One important ceremony, Igue, is focused on the Oba’s mystical powers, which are demonstrated in a subsequent ritual, Emobo, whose main purpose is for the Oba to drive away any evil forces.

The Oba sits in a red pavilion, red being a ‘threatening’ color to help force away evil. Later he dances with an ivory gong, striking it to repel malevolent forces.

This type of mask, as depicted here, was worn by the Oba, usually around his neck, during the Emobo ceremony. The pendant mask represents Queen Mother Idia, mother of Oba Esigie who ruled in the sixteenth century. The top of the pendant is decorated with heads representing the Portuguese, symbolizing Benin’s control over and alliance with the Europeans.

Unfortunately, such African treasures were stolen from Africa and are housed primarily in European, and North American museums throughout the world, the result of the criminality and exploitiation of colonialism.

18×24 Graphite Pencil on Off-white Strathmore Archival Paper


  • Deidre Cripwell
    Deidre Cripwellalmost 7 years ago

    Beautiful – I love that you put a story with the drawings to make it come alive for the viewer. Lovely work as usual

  • Gleniceava
    Gleniceavaalmost 7 years ago

    Thank you.

  • sra58
    sra58almost 7 years ago

    Excellent work— I remember the image from an art history course. You paid a great tribute to a fine work of art.
    Sharon A.

  • Tara Johnson
    Tara Johnsonalmost 7 years ago

    Very well done! I love the detail here!

  • AmandaGWright
    AmandaGWrightover 6 years ago


  • -Lilith-
    -Lilith-almost 6 years ago

    Wonderful art. Love it!

  • paintingsbycr10
    paintingsbycr10almost 5 years ago

    Very fine drawing.

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