Benin Queen and Mother with Children essay
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The Benin Queen Mother and the Mother with Children images have been strategically used to put emphasis on and address fundamental issues regarding the role of women in contemporary African society. In Walthall’s book, we find an image of Queen Eson N’Erie wearing coral beads on the neck, wrists, and ankles, headbands, hairstyle befitting her position and traditional regalia which is symbolic during ‘igue’ festival (Walthall 126). This image further signifies her as the ‘Eson’ or Oba’s senior wife signifying her domineering wife amongst other wives. Women married to the throne acted as the caretakers whose major aim was to ensure the matrimonial duties are fulfilled to the throne’s desire. In as much as polygamy was the norm in the African traditional context, their existed a pecking order aimed at strengthening the assigned feminine roles both at the throne and at the normal house setting.
In Paula Ben-Amos’ book, we come across a dark brass royal representative image of the mother queen and “an ivory pendant representing a queen mother” (Ben-Amos 58). The dark brass image aims at emphasizing the position of the African woman in the traditional household environment. The royal ivory pendant further serves to postulate the importance of the queen in the protecting the throne from adversities. We also come across Queen mother’s 18th century version of the commemorative head (Ben-Amos 62). This image aims at symbolizing the beauty of the African woman and emphasizes on the importance regarding the strength and reasoning capability of the woman in essence. Moreover, the pervasive images women with their children strive to emphasize the position of the woman in the polygamy setting with regard to forging meaningful and lasting ties to their husbands (Kaplan 55). However, in as much as the role of the woman is linked more towards motherhood the images do not vilify the role of the man in this predominantly male ruled society.