The belief of the natives of Esie (Esie Stone Images) is that these soapstone images were humans turned to stone and the images were worshiped at some point as it was seen as their forefathers. As a result, the King of Esie doesn’t visit the museum because it is forbidden for the king to prostate or kneel to anyone.
Four myths behind the stone images claimed that they were humans beings turned to stone but only one version has a different scope to it, they were probably carved and abandoned.
Here, we will be revisiting the myths and busting the claims to deeply sieve the mystery behind these soapstone images.
There were some Europeans who wanted to transact business with the King (The Elesie) of Esie at a particular time but they didn’t show up as at the time promised, so days went by and the King’s family went hungry, then one of his wives, the youngest, suggested that he should go to the farm to get them some food to eat, he obliged. While working on the farm, he received a call that the Europeans were around so he had to leave the farm for home.
On getting home, he went to change his clothes, already the Europeans were already impatient as they had been waiting for his arrival since. Soon he came out to them and they asked, ‘King, what took you so long?’, he replied, “I’ve been in the inner room working on something”, unknown to the king, a leaf of okra was stuck to his forehead. On sighting that, the Europeans suspected a foul play and decided not to carry on with the business transaction as they thought the King to be dishonest.
Out of annoyance, the King cast a spell on them and turned them into the stone images. (Bravo!)
Myth Buster #1
This myth is debunked as the stone images do not have features of Europeans. The stone images have tribal marks and facial attributes with instruments and ornaments of Africans.
Secondly, the number of these images were a lot, over a thousand. What would a thousand Europeans be doing in a village as at that time? Just curiously asking.
This moves us to the next.
During the inter-tribal wars, the Nupe (a tribe in Nigeria) people were trying to capture the Esie and the Nupe people thought if we want to capture these people we have to be tactical, so they thought out a plan, they would all turn to stone images when they get into their midst and unturn the spell and take over the territory. unfortunately, they forgot to leave one person out to unturn them to humans that’s how they’ve been ever since. This is evident in the chant songs of the Esie People where it is mentioned that “We are the ones the Nupe people were unable to capture”.
Myth Buster #2
The tallest of the images is about 74cm and not up to the height of any human. As such, these really do not make up for the claim. #busted.
In a bid to pledge his allegiance with his community, one of the warriors mentioned that whenever there was an oppressor or anyone who wanted to take over, they can pull his chains and he would come out to fight for them. Unfortunately, some youths who doubted his claims, decided to pull his chains due to their youthful exuberance then he came out and started killing everyone he met in the community. By the time he found out it was a joke from the youths, he had killed innocent people. He got really furious and decided to turn them all to the stone images with his magical powers.
This is evident on the images as some of it had chopped hands, heads, legs.
Myth Buster #3
This claim is debunked as these stone images could have been tampered with as a result of weather over time (since 1775) and also the improper preservation and handling of the stone images. #busted.
Another group of people came into the community of Esie and wanted to settle in the community. Then the King asked them to settle at the border of the community but they weren’t satisfied, they wanted the whole area to themselves so they planned a trick but God was on the side of the Esie people and decided to punish these set of people for planning to take over the Esie Community by turning them into the soapstone images.
Myth Buster #4
This claim also doesn’t add up as the images are not up to the size of humans within the sizes ranging from 73- 60cm, hence its #busted.
The last version saw the sculptures as carvings made by some sculptors but was abandoned due to the spread of another religion in the community.
Myth Buster #5
The idea of science can be applied to this belief and we can almost confirm this theory. #confirmed.
Some archaeologists examined the stones and came up with a different view after the discovery and establishment of the museum. The archaeological position debunked the earlier belief. According to the Museum’s Chief Education Officer, Mr. Ajayi Johnson Ademola, the images were carved by unknown persons, whose reasons for embarking on such a creative enterprise had remained unknown. Although the Esie community has no historical antecedence as stone carvers.
Whichever version you choose to believe, the Origin of the Esie sculptures still remains a mystery to date.
Read more here: Esie Stone Images