OYO KINGDOM: KNOW THE DIFFERENT TITLES OF ALAAFIN’S AYABAS & THEIR FUNCTIONS

-Asa Orisa Alaafin Oyo

The Alaafin’s wives are referred to as Ayabas. A new Ayaba is initiated into the Palace by the old ones.

When The Alaafin brings in a new wife, he chooses a Palace mother for her from older Ayabas who will mentor the new wife. This is because they have experience of the Palace life. She will be introduced to the other Ayabas after which feasting and merry making follows.

This Palace mother guides the new Ayaba, trains her on how to comport herself in the Palace and teaches her the do’s and don’t of the palace.

Among the Ayabas some are ladies of high ranks, who are called by their titles. Inside the Palace consist of eight title Ayabas of the highest rank besides other Ayabas.

1. Iya Oba
2. Iya Kere
3. Iya Naso
4. Iya Monari
5. Iya Afin Iku
6. Iya Lagbon
7. Iya Orunkunmefun
8. Aare Ori Ite

IYA OBA
An Ayaba with the title IYA OBA is The Alaafin’s official mother. She keeps the coffin made of clay which is to remind The Alaafin of his coming apotheosis. This must not be seen by any other Ayaba and is secretly kept in a room in Iya Oba’s apartment.

IYA KERE
Next to the Alaafin’s official mother is Iya Kere. Though greater respect is paid to Iya Oba, Iya Kere holds the highest rank and greatest power among the Ayabas in the Alaafin’s Palace. She is in charge of The Alaafin’s treasure.
Iya Kere is the person entitled to place the crown on The Alaafins’ head at the coronation. She is the official mother of the entire Ilaris.

She keeps in her custody all the images bearing the mark of each Ilari in order to ensure the safety of The Alaafin’s life.

She used to be the feudal head of the Aseyin of Iseyin (king of Iseyin town), the Oluwo of Iwo (The king of Iwo), and the Soun of Ogbomosho (king of Ogbomoso).

IYA NASO
Sango, is one of the deities tha The Alaafin worships. Iya Naso is responsible for anything connected to the deity. She has the Alaafin’s private Sango shrine in her apartment. The main Sango shrine is in Koso, an area in Oyo town which is believed to be the exact sacred place where Alaafin Sango was pronounced not hung.

IYA MONARI
Iya Monari is the first lieutenant and assistant the Iya Naso. It was her duty to execute “ by strangling” any Sango worshipper condemned to death in the past, as they are forbidden to be killed by swords.

IYA AFIN IKU
She is the second lieutenant and assistant to Iya Naso. All Sango worshippers are to devote one of their children to the worship of Sango and it is the Iya Afin Iku that stands in place of that to the king.

IYA LAGBON
The mother of the Crown Prince is always promoted to Iya Lagbon. In case she is not living, who ever is promoted to that office acts like a mother to the Crown Prince.

IYA ORUNKUNMEFUN
She is connected with the Aremo the Crown Prince. She is a close associate of the Crown Prince’s mother.

AARE ORI ITE
She is The Alaafin’s personal attendant. Her duty is to ensure that The Alaafin’s meals are properly prepared and his bed is properly made.
The Aare Ori Ite must make sure The Alaafin is comfortably in bed before retiring to her own apartment.

These eight ranking Ayabas are the ones holding responsible positions and each of them head a small compound within the Palace walls.

Some other Ayabas

1. Iya Mode
2. Iya’le Oduduwa
3. Iya Ode
4. Eni Oja
5. Iya Ile Agbo
6. Iya Ile Ori

IYA MODE
She resides inside the Palace but her duty is outside the Palace.
She is the superior of those celibates living in the Bara and she is styled by the “Baba” i.e. father.
Her duty is to worship the spirit of the departed kings, calling out their Egungun, the spirit of the ancestors in a room set aside for the purpose in her apartment.
The king should kneel to greet her and she also returns the salutation kneeling, but never kneeling on her elbow.

THE IYA’LE ODUDUWA
She is the head of the special temple in the Palace where the image of Oduduwa stays. She lives outside the Palace.

IYA ODE
She is the head of all worshippers of Osossi. She apperas dressed as a hunter, wearing ornamented with strings of cowries neatly strung on her shoulder.

ENI OJA
She is in charge of the king’s market and enjoy’s all the perks accruing from there. She wears a gown like a man.
She has under her the Olosi or Osi Efa who has joint responsability with her for the market and the Aroja or market keeper who actually resides in the market.

IYA’LE AGBO
She is a private pharmaceutical attendant of the king. His agunmu (powers) and agbo (concoctions) are all in her care.

IYA ILE ORI
She is in charge of the Ori. The Ori (head) is te universal household deity, which it is propritiated in order to get good luck.
Her appartment is the king’s ori and she ‘s the one to propitiate it for him. After the death of its owner, the image of Ori with the coffer is destroyed and the 6 head (12 000-twelve thousand) cowries will be spent.

 

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