An Edo figure from the reign of the oba Esigie (c. 1504 – 1550) Brooklyn Museum.

Oba Esigie was an Oba (king) of Benin who ruled the ancient Benin Kingdom,[1] now Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria (c.1504 – c.1550). Works of art commissioned by Esigie are held in prominent museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum.

At the time of his father Oba Ozolua's death, Esigie controlled Benin City and his brother Arhuaran controlled Udo, a town about 30 kilometres (20 mi) northwest of Benin City that was nearly its equal in size and influence. Following a bitter power struggle with Aruaran, and with major assistance and support from his mother Queen Idia, "Esigie gathered together the Benin army at Unuame on the river Osse and from there launched an attack which finally destroyed the might of Udo and his giant half-brother Arhuanran" (Egharevba, 1968: 26).[2] Esigie became Oba of Benin. Esigie later fended off an attack from the Igala people.

Esigie started a tradition in Benin by investing his mother with the title of Iyoba (Queen Mother) and providing the Eguae-Iyoba (Palace of the Queen Mother) in lower Uselu for her use.[3]


  1. ^ "Oba esigie".
  2. ^ "West African Journal of Archaeology".
  3. ^ Guinea Coast, 1400–1600 A.D. | Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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