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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Art, symbol and authority among the Aro of South-east Nigeria
Author:Dike, P. Chike
Periodical:Nigeria Magazine
Geographic term:Nigeria
Aro polity
secret societies
Abstract:Among the Aro of southeast Nigeria material symbolism tends to focus not on the kingship, as is the case in many other African States, but on the dispersed secret society known as the 'ekpe'. The 'ekpe' seems to have exercised power not only as a counterbalance to the kingship but as the effective judicial, executive and legislative authority. It owed its position to its democratic base and the quality and credibility of its membership, as well as the legitimacy it derived from a supposed communication with its dead members, who as ancestors participated in its activities. Added to this was the waning of the kingship itself. However, even in times of its greatest glory, art and material symbols were hardly employed to build up and express kingly charisma. Rather, they were essentially employed as symbols of internal and external communication. Many of the other material symbols and signs not linked directly to the Aro communication system remained the prerogative not of the king, but of the 'ekpe'. Bibliogr., notes.