The Royal beads of Igala kindom.
rex at August 15th, 2013
It is important to note that, the use of beads as a mark of respect evolved in Igala kingship a very long time ago. It is also very important to note that in Igala traditional institution, men of timber and caliber are duly recognized by the Ata Igala who is the paramount ruler of the kingdom. And to be so recognized, one has to pass through investiture ceremony, where one is expected to be publicly honoured, and beaded. The beading entails presentation of several items of insignia of office as symbols of authority. These royal objects are; oka(beads) okwu(neck-let) robe(olawoni) red-cap(olumada) and otihi(flywhisk.)
The ‘Okwu’ is a beautifully designed pectoral bead that is blue in colour while the ‘Oka’ is for the wrist. The two are important objects of royalty that are usually worn on the wrist and neck respectively by highly placed and beaded traditional rulers. Among these high profile personalities in Igalaland that wear the royal beads are; Ata Igala, Achadu, the royal councilors, major towns and regional chiefs and other beaded chiefs.
The tradition of origin for some of the Igala marvelous age old royal artifacts that constitute famous monuments of classical antiquity to the kingdom are usually connected to the remote past. They are appreciated and recognized as royal objects that descended from the past rulers of the kingdom. In essence, these venerated objects are reflections of the historical development of Igala kingship and succession of authority. They collectively represent the symbolic transfer of power from the founders of the kingdom to their successors.
Finally, Ata Ayegba Om’Idoko is generally associated with the founding of these items of regalia in Igala kingship.
FUNCTIONS The Flywhisk
The Flywhisk (Otihi)–
It is a unique symbol of authority usually handed over to any beaded chief as an insignia of office. The chief is not traditionally expected to have a handshake with anybody; rather, he greets and blesses them with the otihi as it is believed to possess immense power of blessings.
The Red Cap. (Olumada kpai Olawoni)
The red cap and the robe go together in the investiture ceremony. The turban is a symbol of authority and nobility that symbolises the ideology of kingship, subsequently enhancing the personality of the chief.
The Neck Let (Okwu)
The neck let ‘Okwu’ is another royal symbol that is so important in Igala kingdom that only beaded chiefs have the privilege of wearing it. In the ancient times, if the chief puts his neck let on anything, that thing must be taken to the chief’s palace for explanation. If it is put on a young girl’s neck, the girl must be taken to the chief’s palace for her to become the chief’s wife.
The wrist beads (oka)
The Oka is the special beads worn on the wrist; they are eight in number, four each on the wrist. The prestige that goes with the use of the beads is much because royalty is easily recognised in Igalaland with it. And it is intended to impress and entice the people when adorned. This is because it confers on someone, the noble title of a chief and changes his status immediately.
CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ROYAL BEADS
The significance of these royal objects can hardly be over stressed, because without them, nobody can be recognised as a chief. That is why if one of the beads on the two wrists is cut, following the directives of His Royal Majesty, the Ata Igala, that chief is automatically disrobed. This is informed by the fact that the beads confer on the chief position of superiority and impose on him traditional ritual rites.
In a nutshell, the beads bestow on the ruling elite enough rights, privileges, honour and respect anybody can command in his community.