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A Visual Representation in Tapestry of the Coronation Ceremony of the OBA Benin


This project report is a visual representation of the rich cultural heritage inherent in Benin kingdom of Nigeria West Africa on the Oba’s coronation in tapestry weaves. The study seeks to document and highlight the importance of coronation in Benin kingdom. The study also educates the delight the waivers of the artwork with an artistic impression of such a beautiful and memorable occasion. The significance is that the work gives a detailed account of the Benin’s monarchical system and also, entails a step-by-step explanation of the tapestry weaving technique and the processes involved in the practical execution of the project for an interior decoration.


  • Introduction Background of the study

Benin, one of the ancient cities in the world is situated in the forest zone, west of the Niger in Nigeria. It is a settlement on the low-lying plain bounded to the north by the Igbirra, on the east by the Igala and Ibo, on the south by the Itsekiri and Ijaw, and on the west by the Yoruba people.

The Benin monarchical system is based on primogeniture, the system were to the right of succession is conceded solely to the eldest son of the Oba. Over the years, this direct system of ascension has endured, making the Benin royal family one of the oldest families in Africa with a history that spans over 800 years.

Coronation is a ceremony at which a crown is formally placed on the head of a  new king or queen. Coronation is an occasion celebrated all over the world it is a celebration laced with a solemn religious ceremony. A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and\or their consort with regal power, usually involving the ritual placement of a crown upon his or her head and the presentation of other items of regalia. Coronation has changed over time for a variety of socio-political and religious factors, most modern monarchies have dispensed with them altogether, preferring simpler enthronement, investiture or benediction ceremonies.

In the past, concepts of royalty, coronation and deity were often inevitably linked. Coronations were once a direct visual expression of these alleged connections, but recent centuries have seen the Lessing of such beliefs due to increasing secularization and democratization. Thus, coronation or their religious elements at least have often been discarded altogether or altered to reflect the constitutional nature of the states in which they are held. However, some monarchies still choose to retain an overly religious dimension to their accession rituals others have adopted simpler enthronement or inauguration ceremonies, or even no ceremony at all.

The coronation ceremony is unlike other ceremonies or festivals that come up at regular intervals which could be annual, biannually or within a specified span of the years. In Benin, the interval between one coronation ceremony and the other is dependent solely on the duration of the reign of the incumbent Oba. Coronation rites differ in different places. For instance, in a non-Christian state, coronation rite evolved from a variety of sources, often related to the religious beliefs of that particular nation. In Benin, there are seven stations the crowned prince passes through to become the Oba with different ritual rites. Not much is known about these rituals because they are considered to be sacred; they are not to be spoken about by anyone.

The research has been a quest to highlight the events of the coronation ceremony  of the Oba of Benin. In portraying this, a visual representation of the Oba of Benin and his chiefs is shown. The researcher used weaving (tapestry technique) in achieving this.

Weaving is the interlacing of two or more threads or materials in order to create a joined structure. Weaving is a method of textile production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. (Retrieved from www.en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/weaving), this is the basic principle of cloth weaving. The warp consists of threads laid parallel to one another, stretched across a loom. The weft is pulled through the warp in an under and over pattern, creating a single joined piece of fabric when completed. Weaving has existed for thousands of years (most often use to make cloth). It remains as popular and useful in the modern world as it did in ancient civilization.

A most necessary piece of equipment for weaving is the loom. It’s a frame that holds the warp tight and helps pull the weft thread through. Mechanical looms were later invented and it became prevalent for mass production, making hand weaving almost archaic for trade. Since the development of mechanical looms, the once vital profession has become a popular home craft.

The majority of woven products are created with one of three basic weaves: the plain weave, the satin weave or the twill weave.

Tapestry is a type of fiber weaving. It is a weft-faced lie; that is the warp does not show at all. It is a heavy cloth that has designs or pictures woven into it and is used especially as a wall hanging.

Tapestry is a form of textile art traditionally woven on a vertical loom. The name has been used for almost any heavy material, Hand woven; machine weaved, or even embroidered, used for cover furniture, walls, or floors or for the decorations or clothing. Most weavers use natural warp thread such as linen or cotton. The weft threads are usually wool or cotton, but may include silk or other alternatives.

Tapestries are usually designed as single panels or sets, a tapestry set is a group of individual panels related by subject, style and workmanship and intended to be hung together. The number of pieces in a set varies according to the dimension of the wall to be covered.

In west tapestry traditionally has been a collective combing of the talents of the painter or designer, with those of the weaver. The earliest European tapestries, those woven in the middle ages, were made by weavers who exercised much of their own ingenuity in following the cartoon or artist’s sketch for the design. Though he followed the painter’s directions and pattern fairly closely, the weaver did not hesitate to make departures from them and assert his own skills and artistic personality.

In the renaissance, tapestries increasingly became woven reproduction of paintings, and the weavers were no longer regarded as the painter’s collaborator but became his imitator. in medieval France and Belgium, as well as now. A painter’s work was always executed in tapestry through the intermediary of the weaver. Tapestry is woven directly by the painter who created it remains an exception, almost exclusive to ladies handiwork.

1.1 Statement of Problem

The quest for what is Western and modern has made many youths lose interest in most African culture and tradition of which Benin kingdom is not an exception. Hence, there is a need to document, teach and aesthetically represent this cultural heritage for posterity by exploring another medium of expression like a tapestry than the usual painting technique.

1.2 Significance of Study

The study is to showcase an artistic visual representation of the coronation of the Oba of Benin in a tapestry weave for an interior decoration. This earnest has shown that tapestry weaves have gone beyond a flat underlying of woolen yarns but has been used to achieve pictorial works of arts similar to painted artworks. Also the fact that the whole coronation activities constitute a “relive” of major historical events in Benin kingdom makes it most vital and interesting for a detailed study to be carried out.

1.3 Purpose of Study

Using tapestry technique to depict the coronation ceremony of the Oba of Benin which is an embodiment of the newly crowned Oba and his chiefs which would be used as a wall hanging, shows that weaving cannot just be used as wears but can also serve as aesthetic purposes (wall hanging).The documentation of the coronation ceremony of the Oba of Benin also would serve as a means of preserving the rich cultural heritage of the Benin people. In addition, the study sought to bridge the past and present. This no doubt, would be beneficial to the upcoming generations that are going to be compelled to contend with the constant reshaping of the culture.

1.5 Scope of Study

The study is with the use of a frame loom for the construction of a wall hanging.


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