These sculptures, in its large number, what does it represent?
The first National Museum in Nigeria
Esie Museum, the first National Museum in Nigeria, located in Irepodun Local Government area, Kwara state was established in 1945 by the British Colonial Government years after the discovery of a large number of soapstone images in a grove by Baragbon, a fierce hunter on a hunting expedition in 1775.
It was however brought to limelight in 1933, by Mr. H.G. Ramshaw, a School Inspector with the Church Missionary Society, whom informed the Colonial Governor and the museum was established in 1945
Baragbon, The Fierce Hunter
Baragbon, on his hunting expedition, came across the stone images, well arranged in a circular setting like in a human settlement where a meeting was taken place. The images depict different tribal marks, beads, musical instruments, tools, ammunition, dancers, spectators, town crier, farmers etc but most noticeable among it is the king, with all the palace guides, queens, chiefs, and the palace itself.
Esie Images, a demi-god?
The stone images drew the attention of people after it was discovered and at some point, the images were worshipped for the natives believed the images were their ancestors and a festival was held in its name, not until recently when the worship was abolished by the king, Oba Babalola Egungunjobi.
Esie, are you real?
- Who owns these images?
- Where was/is the sculptor?
- Is it really true that these sculptures were once humans?
- Did they ever lived and transformed into these images due to a spell casted?
- How did it get to be over a thousand images in one spot?
- where is the element of the soapstone used in sculpting these images gotten from?
These are the likely questions running through my mind as these soapstone images, over 3 centuries, remains a mystery to many as well.