Oro, the bird of prophecy, is deeply entwined in Benin history. It is often presented in connection with an idiophone, as seen here, but sometimes appears on plaques as well. According to oral tradition, the oro played an important role in the Igala War. The story goes that in the early 16 th century, Benin was attacked and almost conquered by a rivalling kingdom from across the Niger, Igala. A bird prophesised that Benin would succumb to the Igala forces, whereupon Oba Esigie shot the bird and, astonishingly, went on to defeat the Igala's Attah of Idah. As a symbol of his victory, he had idiophones with birds of prophecy cast and had it proclaimed that one should never trust an oro. During the annual Ugie Oro ceremony, dignitaries strike the bronze beak of the animal in honour of Esigie and his victory.
Barbara PLANKENSTEINER (Hg.): Benin. Könige und Rituale. Höfische Kunst aus Nigeria, Wien 2007, S. 446.