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Hand - Ikega In Culture

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With ambrose ekhosuehi {Last update 25/092017}

The hand is associated with success. It is a symbol of wealth and social achievement judged in terms of wealth and prestige of an individual in the context of human society and the world in general. It symbolizes human vigour, enterprise and industry in farming, agriculture, trading, in campaign or any other activity to which a man turns his hand. It implies personal responsibility and self-reliance in a highly competitive and relatively individualistic society.

The hand in a contemporary expressions is the extremity of the arm below the wrist share in performance, style, skill, handiwork, touch, control, possession, assistance, consent to or promise of in marriage or fulfilment of such promise and round of applause, hand clapping, acceptance or in agreement with many suffix such as handshaking, handsome; handful and hand promise — a solemn form of betrothal indeed.

The hand tells the fortune in human being. It is the servant to all the organs. It can be described as an exact science, the art of reading in the hand the character and fortune of an individual. Since the past, the present and the future are written upon the lines of the hand.

Ikega is a sacred object representing human hand, the wrist and an anklet of cowries that market woman keep on their trays in order to prevent things being stolen but attracts quick sales of merchandise.

Wealthy men have a carved Ikega stool with hand carved at one corner, on which they put their hands during Ihieku ceremony “0 khon mu obo yan Ikega” that is “he is very successful that he puts his hand on the stool of ikega.

Ikega has a more specific meaning for those who are especially dependent such as craftsmen, engineers, technicians, hunters, warriors and herdsmen.

Wealth, rank and political power were the measures of social success and this fact have modified exclusive connection with martial virtues that the culture of the hand, Ikega, might have had.

Ikega-obo is found in the house of every successful craftsman and other wealthy people who might have been advised to own an Ikega Obo to mark their own achievements.

In Ikega Obo, the hand itself is the most common motif. It is carved including the wrist in an upright position, showing the vendral side, with the fist clenched and the thumb pointing upwards and outwards. Costumes representing the owner, sometimes with attendants, two of whom may sometimes support his arms.

Warriors with swords, spears, shields and ceremonial apparatus are often shown. The bronze Ikega — Obo sometimes depict warriors engaged in fighting, craftsman’s tools, such as smiths hammers, anvils, tongs, mallets and adzes are also depicted. Others are padlocked chests and boxes, demijohn (uru) beads, strings of cowries.

A man would not have Ikega-Obo until he had wife and children. The commonest emblem of rank is represented. The Igan Oghohon, eagle feather that tops the beads. The leopard occurs as a symbol of kingship. Crocodile, symbol of physical power encircling the main cylinder and stylised elephant heads the trunk ends in a hand holding a leaf or branch.

The explanation is that the elephants trunk as having the form and function of a hand, refers to the elephant’s habit of tearing off the young palm tree — Enin gha ri okhere o ri Igban ren.

In Ikega — Obo a servant is shown holding a bowl of kola-nuts, offerings including alligator pepper pods, slices of coconuts, fish, calabashes, cocks, hens, goats, rams and cows.

Ikega — obo therefore symbolize the whole range of notions underlying the culture of the hand. For the historians and ethnographers, the ikega-obo is a valuable concrete symbol of expression in the past.
Ikega-obo dramatizes the ideal relationship between the Oba of Benin and his military commanders.

It indicates the elaboration of rites and magical devices for procuring success in war and the remarkable degree of dependence, that his ancestors were never defeated in war because Benin never fought until they were sure that their arms were strong enough to give them victory.

Referring to the British Punitive expedition of 1897 which was sudden, the human sacrifice was a desperate appeal to the deities to keep at distance, to stave off what human being could not, yet Benin put up resistance.

Ikega — obo emphasizes a head-getting element in Benin warfare which is important for a proper understanding in comparison between other culture.

Ikega-obo would provide information about the types of weapons, dress, ornament, apparatus in use at the time and the presence of European soldiers.

It was the practice for warrior chiefs to take Bronze Casters with them on their campaigns to record events and smiths among others.

In considering Ikega-Obo as a historical record care must be taken to distinguish its significance for the owners from the value that it may have for the historian. It represents a memorial to a great warrior who had conquered far and wide.

Bronze Ikega-obo was a tangible record and a focus for pride in the martial deeds and qualities that played some parts in keeping the events fresh in mind.

They were intended to cover some information about specific events or particular persons, provided that the object can be properly dated and interpreted. Such bronzes are potential sources of certain kind of historical information in culture.

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