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In Benin, many of the Kings that rules Dahomey are represented by Totem. These totems can be seen throughout the country especially in the areas where the Royal palaces are. Nowadays, it is common to see them integrated on traditional clothing or turned into flags. They make great souvenirs as it is not only educating but the clothes on which the totems are sewn or integrated in are done using traditional hand weaving method put together by the locals and by also using raw unbleached organic cotton from the regions of Benin.
The cloths expose all symbols related to the Kings of the kingdom of Abomey in Benin 1620-1900. They also tell the story of the region as well as a reflection of the rulers’ characters. All fabrics are hand-sewn and patterns arise from the superposition of small pieces of colored fabric sewn on top of each other . The fabric sewers are called Tisserand in Benin.
It is symbolized by a bird and a tam -tam . This bird is known under the name of Saswé and is renowned for its greed : he leaves nothing to his opponent (as the prince done ) .
It is symbolized by a jar of indigo . The Jar refers to an historical event where Dako Donu surprised his enemy Aizo who was then preparing indigo. He killed him , put his body in the jar and carried it out. The core message refers to the idea of domination.
It is represented by a fish trapped in a fishnet. This refers to when was prince had escaped a trap that in which he was caught.
It is symbolized by a chameleon , a boar or pig. The chameleon symbolizes has to do with the long wait the king had to endure in order to gain the throne .
It is represented by a boat as it is during his reign that the Kingdom of Abomey had its first contact with Europeans sailors arriving on the land of Dahomey.
It is represented by a dressed buffalo. A dressed buffalo is difficult to undress. This refers to an attempted poisoning scheme that was done by poisoning his clothes.
It is represented by either a rifle or a bird and the refers to the battle that took place with the Kingdom of Kpengla .
It is represented by a pineapple that symbolizes the prudent and conservative nature of this king. According to him, anything that is small is not an easy target to reach.
It is represented by a buffalo or a ram. A Buffalo is a powerful and strong animal with a reckless character. Therefore, one should avoid encountering them. This was King Guezo’s way of warning and keeping enemies away from his kingdom.
It is symbolized by the lion because he was a fearless and fierce king.
It is represented by a shark and an egg. Our world has produced an egg and only the earth feels the weight . The motto means: “Here is the awaited king that will achieve great things”.
It is represented by a leg hitting a rock. Abomey struggled with it independency but did not surrender to the French . This king was put on the throne by the French who helped him beat his predecessor. This symbolism was made to show his gratitude to the French.