IKEBE – The royal crown of ATA Igala
rex at September 25th, 2014
The use of Royal crown
The use of royal crown as a mark of royalty is a universal trend that dates back to several centuries. Ikebe, which is like the modern day royal crown, is another important item of the Ata’s royal regalia. It is traditionally a well designed cap with highly valued jewels. The highly priced and popular red parrot’s feather ‘Uloko’ is generously fixed round its edges to give it an amazing outlook. The feathers are knitted together with cowries and a couple of other designs to make it more beautiful and attractive. It was designed with precious jewels-diamonds, rubies and emeralds that makes it exclusive and a masterpiece of embroidery. It derived its uniqueness from the symbol of champions ‘Oloko’ that are firmly affixed to it. It is unique in the sense that only one king in the whole Igalaland wears it and that is the Ata Igala. It is a unique symbol of supremacy and one who wears it becomes the sovereign ruler of the kingdom whose authority is acknowledged by all other kings in the kingdom. Another important sacred object used in the making of the Ikebe that make the crown so special is Onunu-ere. The origin of Onunu-ere is related as follows;
‘In the ancient times, eminent fishermen were sent to the fishery to fish for a special fish ‘Ere’ in a kind of trawler. And after some days, the men brought the fish and it was preserved for nine more days before the iron-like types of bones in its tail were carefully extracted. And after some rituals which equally lasted for another nine days, the bones were then used as part of the sacred and venerated objects used in the making of the Ikebe; the most valuable crown I Igala kingdom.
Orign of IKEBE
Universally, the origin of the crown is traced to Egypt famed as the bedrock of human civilization. But in Igalaland, the precise origin of the royal crown, Ikebe, could not be easily ascertained as most of my informants said “Ikebe de kw’igbele igbele”
Meaning; the royal crown has been in existence right from time immemorial. However, some historians described it as an age old Ata’s insignia of office and traced its origin to the days of Ata Ayegba Om’Idoko.
Significance of IKEBE in Igala Kingdom
The significance of this highly treasured royal object is derived from the inestimable materials that were used to design it. For instance, in Igala tradition, the Uloko is a special feather that is very hard to get; it’s worth is beyond price and is usually given by constituted authority to a winner to single him out as undisputed champion. And in the Ikebe, a number of those beautiful red-parrot feathers were used to beautify it, an indication that the Ata Igala who wears the Ikebe is the greatest of all.