Original

Reformed spellings for Igbo Settlements
Abakaliki is Abakaleke; Afikpo is Ehugbo; Asaba is Ahaba; Awgu is Ogu; Awka is Oka; Bonny is Ubani; Enugu is Enugwu; Ibusa is Igbuzor; Igrita is Igwuruta; Oguta is Ugwuta; Onitsha is Onicha; Owerri is Owerre; Oyigbo is Obigbo; Port Harcourt is Diobu; Ogwashi-Uku is Ogwa Nshi Ukwu... any more will be added.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Igbo Male Hairstyle

This is the kind of hairstyle worn by young Igbo men around the northern side of the Igbo area. The photo was taken around the 1920s. Young guys grew their hair like this for the same reasons young guys grow their hair today.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Igbo Warfare: Shields

Photo: An Öka (Awka) elder and another man during a war demonstration. Photographed by Northcote Thomas, c. 1910-11. MAA Cambridge.

Large body shields are commonly ọta, dialect depending; smaller lighter wicker shields èkpèkè. Shield: ọta; wicker/straw shield: èkpèkè, egbeje; gun shield: òkoro.

The Ibo warrior also carried shields which were of two types. One was a heavy wooden shield. This was used for home defence when defending a town against attack. It was too heavy to be carried on raids or forays and was then replaced by a light wicker shield made from laths cut from the midrib of the oil palm (Elæis guineënsis) or of the Borassus palm (Borassus æthiopica). These wicker shields are found widely distributed.

– M. D. W. Jeffreys (1956). "Ibo Warfare."

Ọ̀gbọ Agha

Ọ̀gbọ agha. A war demonstration by men whose names do not appear to have been noted, photographed by Northcote Thomas, c. 1910-11. The men have swords/machetes, shields made from either wood or the 'midrib of oil palms', and war hats. The location is given as Awka. Colourised Ụ́kpụ́rụ́ 2019. MAA Cambridge.

Original.

Burial Duties

Duties of the (Igbo) second burial (ịkwa ozu?) according to the European source, early 20th century. This is probably for a very prominent person. The photograph is also likely from today's Anambra State.

Ebiriba Origins

Photo: The Otiri masquerade of Ebiriba (Abiriba), a masquerade, of the Iri Ama festival, that praises beautiful women of the community for gifts. Photographed in the 1930s by G. I. Jones. MAA Cambridge.

Ebiriba (Abiriba) was one of the centres of blacksmithing in the Igbo area. The smiths from Ebiriba were itinerant and had bases outside of their homes in nearby towns like Uzuakoli. The smithing trade was so central to the economy of Ebiriba that ụzụ (smithing) in Ebiriba refers to any sort of long-distance trade.

The settlement of Ebiriba appears to coincide with the general eastward expansion of the Igbo people in the Cross River area. Included in this migration were the Ohafia, Aro, Abam, and Eda and Nkporo people. Like in most parts of the Igbo area, the migrations are very mixed and complex, some moving back on one another. In legend, the Aro, Abam, Ohafia, Eda, and Ebiriba people are said to have links to a progenitor, Eze, who came from Ibeku in today's Umuahia.

The links between Ohafia and Ibeku are well established through a legend recounting Ohafia's departure from Isieke, a village in Ibeku, as well as the rights Ibeku people have in Ohafia as members of the elder settlement and as kin. Customs linking the Ebiriba and other Cross River groups and Ibeku are not as strong. It is, however, likely that these Cross River Igbo groups did migrate from the Ibeku and the general Umuahia area.

The Ebiriba and Aro are linked in tradition as coming from the same migration. All these Cross River Igbo groups backed the Aro militarily during their ascension in the late 17th century; this bond is now popularly known as the Aro Confederacy. The Cross River Igbo groups all have strong connections with non-Igbo Cross River groups.

See: Philip Nsugbe (1974). "Ohaffia: A Matrilineal Ibo People"; John Oriji (1994). "Traditions of Igbo origin".

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Igbo Dualism and Àlà

Photo: Ugonachomma Igbo art piece of a man-woman couple, carved to the average person's height. British Museum.

So, in summary, Igbo cosmology is dualism, the universe is ultimately made up of two complementary and opposing primordial forces, often represented as male and female, it is how everything is equally paired.

It's the philosophy of balance, of the mortal realm and the spirit realm, for example, women's and men's parallel and complementary organisations and initiations, okenye, oke ibiri; daada, deede; ọzọ, ịyọm; ọmụ, obi; places for living and sacred groves for nature, etc.

Nne ahịhịa n'agwọ oke ahịhịa, female plants are antidotes to male plants, and vice versa.

That being said, it's now a question of whether Chi na Eke were seen as ontological concepts rather than deities, if the former, then Chi na Eke (and Chukwu) is not the supreme Igbo deity, Àlà, Ànà, Àlị̀, Ànị̀, the Earth Mother, is the recognised supreme Igbo deity in general.

Young Igbo woman

A young Igbo woman from the old colonial Awka and Onitsha Divisions, roughly present-day Anambra State. Taken in the early 20th century.

It seems by this time Igbo people were well acquainted with foreign factory-made textiles, one of which, it seems, the young woman is wearing in the photo.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Omu Okpanam

The Omu of Okpanam, whose name was not recorded, photographed by Northcote Thomas in 1912. Okpanam is an Enuani Igbo town near Asaba in Delta State, Nigeria today.

The Omu are titled women who control markets and are spiritual protectors to the Obi, the king, in Igbo communities west of the Niger River, typically among the Enuani, and in the past in Onicha (Onitsha) and Osomari on the east bank of the Niger River. There is one Omu in each community with the institution.

The Omu work closely with diviners performing rites for the community and are the authorities over the opening of markets and resolving disputes within the market. The Omu depending on the community and period take titles typically reserved for men and also dress like men, as a consequence women who are post-menopausal are preferred for the role because such women in Igbo society could achieve the same status as men. As is custom in most communities, the Omu was not allowed to be married to a man, Omu were known to marry wives to assist them and have children for them.

Colonialism greatly reduced the power of the Omu in the market and over society in general due to gender bias in the indirect rule system, colonialism was also partly the cause of the disappearance of the institution in some Igbo communities. Today there are many Omu who are still active in their roles.

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