An ivory pendant mask believed to have been produced in the early sixteenth century for King (Oba) Esigie of Benin to honor his mother Idia.  Part of a set, there is a nearly identical pendant in the British Museum.  It may have worn by Esigie at rites commemorating his mother or for other spiritual rituals.   
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gallery 352.
When King Ozula died in 1514, the Kingdom of Benin was split between his two sons, Esigie and Arhuaran.  Their mother Idia sided with Esigie, mobilizing an army around him and, according to legend, using her magical powers to help Esigie win.  After Esigie was crowned king, he created a new position within the court called the iyoba, or Queen Mother. As Queen Mother, Idia had political status equivalent with a senior chief with her own palace and staff.

An ivory pendant mask believed to have been produced in the early sixteenth century for King (Oba) Esigie of Benin to honor his mother Idia.  Part of a set, there is a nearly identical pendant in the British Museum.  It may have worn by Esigie at rites commemorating his mother or for other spiritual rituals.   

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gallery 352.

When King Ozula died in 1514, the Kingdom of Benin was split between his two sons, Esigie and Arhuaran.  Their mother Idia sided with Esigie, mobilizing an army around him and, according to legend, using her magical powers to help Esigie win.  After Esigie was crowned king, he created a new position within the court called the iyoba, or Queen Mother. As Queen Mother, Idia had political status equivalent with a senior chief with her own palace and staff.