Friday, June 4, 2010
THE ALAKE OF EGBA-LAND
The Yoruba people living in the Abeokuta province of western Nigeria are known as the Egbas.Their paramount ruler,the Alake, is one of the senior chiefs or obas as they are called by the Yorubas.
The Alake owns between 40 to 50 crowns, most of which are made of thousands of coloured beads.The most skillful bead workers in Nigeria-if not in Africa- are found among the Yorubas.It is usual for a bead worker to be attached to an oba or chief; he does not work independently or sell his work in the open market.In olden times,only chiefs and their immediate family were permitted to wear garments and head dresses covered with beads.
The bead-workers are skillfull at covering elaborate objects with thousands of beads.In this illustration,the throne,the footstool and slippers are covered with a multitude of tiny glass beads which are imported.The Alake is wearing collars and necklasses of local gold fashioned by local goldsmiths.
The fly whisk he carries is made of horse hair fastened to a gold handle.It is an important part of the obas regalia.