Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Voice of America broadcast a clip about IYARE!--see it here.

It is a thrill to know this is being shown in Africa, and the exhibition online at may get even more Nigerian viewers!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Moon Keeps Rising....

Osayuki's question about the moon keeps producing more results! (So do our "six degrees of separation" and come up with another term to see how it might connect to Benin).

Uwagboe Ogieva, who has several Facebook groups that promote Edo language and culture, not only retranscribed and translated an incantation recorded in 1919, he has written an original poem in three languages, reproduced here with his gracious permission.

Uki ne khui! uki ne khui!

Egbe ye mwén se vbe uh rie owa

I mudia khé wé vbe édé ugie

Émwén wé yé mwén ne óh mose

Uki ne khui! uki ne khui!

Ye mwén re uh gha sé owa.


Moon dark moon! Moon dark moon!

Unhappy when you fade away

Waiting for you at the festival

Your admiration brightens the earth

Moon dark moon! Moon dark moon!

Remember me when you get home


Estrella negra!, estrella negra!,

Me pongo triste cuando te vas

Te espero en la fiesta,

su admiración aclara la tierra!

Estrella negra!, Estrella negra!

Recuérdeme cuando vuelves

By Uwagboe Ogieva

In addition, I delved further into my bibliographic notes and found Northcote Thomas (p. 180) had also referred to the "Agukisemogie the star that tries to take the kingship from the moon."

Paula Ben-Amos noted that traditions state there was an eclipse at the time of Oba Esigie's coronation, as well as at that of Oba Erediauwa--a special mark of favor from the ancestors. (In "Royal Art and Ideology in Eighteenth-Century Benin."Iowa Studies in African Art I (1981): 67-86.)
And from my own research notes:
Chief Osuan stated that the moon brightens all and is a friend to everyone, shining as a light in the dark: "God uses the moon to repair the night." Moon imagery frequently shows up in conjunction with Chief Osuan on older artworks, including this headdress of the "baby" Ododua mask made in the 18th century. The masquerade was considered the "youngest," and led the others in dancing. The festivities, not held since the 1990s, were once performed at night, and the moon on the brass headpiece was meant to indicate the lmoon's light and how it wouldn't lead others wrong.