Bead History in Edo Culture
"Oral traditions trace the history of the red coral beads to the 1400s A.D. These coral beads signify power, dominance and hierarchy. The account believed to have been given by Oba Ewuaee believed that the beads were allegedly stolen from the ‘goddess of the sea’ at Ughoton (Gwatto) and brought into the Republic of Benin. The corals of the Benin people, Ivie Ebo and Ekan, originate from Phylum Coelenterata (Cnidaria), a unique red coral that grows in bush-like formations in the Meditteranean Sea and the East Sea. Known for its vibrant red colour, the Ivie is also believed to possess spiritual properties that offer protection.
The significance of coral beads in Benin culture: Ivie is considered the most important type of coral bead in the Benin culture, worn only by Benin Obas and Chiefs. Corals are formed from natural organic sediments and are the remains of living and non-living organisms which have solidified over time to form sedimentary rocks. While the Oba of Benin controls the use of Ivie beads, certain shapes and patterns are limited to members of the ruling group that other members of the tribe cannot wear"_ OREORITSE TARIEMI Legacy Explorations with Artisan: Mrs. Uwaila Loveth Irorewean