We spoke to a residence of Benin City and she explained that these birds are untouchable, can’t be killed by anyone and do not only fly in the sky, they also live in the Oba’s palace and are referred to as the Oba of Benin’s birds.
What is their significance?
Power and authority
The Oba of Benin’s power and spiritual connection is represented by birds, especially the “Bird of Prophecy.” The Edo culture’s prophetic bird is a red bird with a large beak that makes prophetic noises. When it yells “Oya—O,” it means disaster or misfortune; when it cries “Oliguegue,” it means luck or good fortune. If it wails continuously, it means you should take caution.
Communication and vigilance
These birds were thought to be messengers and vigilant watchmen over the land. They bring much information to the Oba and signify the Oba’s knowledge of his realm and his capacity for communication and mediation with the ancestors.
Prosperity and protection
It is believed that bird protect the palace and its occupants from bad spirits and bring luck.
Decoration and architecture
The palace was decorated with bronze sculptures of the bird of prophecy, serving as symbols of his divine power and authority to rule. The palace is also full of images of birds in sculptures, paintings, and carvings. The fact that it features in the Oba of Benin’s palace shows that it has beauty and cultural significance.
The Oba’s ceremonial clothing is also adorned with feathers and bird iconography which shows how important birds are.
The palace is full of bird cages. Priests in the palace read the behaviour of certain birds, who were thought to convey prophetic messages to the Oba and the country.
Offerings and rituals
During some ceremonies, birds were occasionally sacrificed as a way to please the ancestors and guarantee the prosperity of the kingdom.
Beyond symbolism, birds help to manage insects and acting as a natural pest deterrent .
Also, there are many birds in Edo State because of Benin’s vegetation type which is a savanna that is home to a wide variety of bird species due to its varied vegetation that includes wetlands, grasslands, and scattered trees.
- This article was partly written with the assistance of Bard AI.