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Character Designs 
YORUBA culture-inspired designs for chess pieces
The Yoruba tribe is located in Southwestern Nigeria, West Africa. The cultural heritage dates back to the glorious days of the Oyo empire. My designs are based on research about the customs and practices of the period. 

The king is the supreme ruler and often regarded as a demi-god. The royal greating 'kabiyesi' roughly means no one dears question his authority. 
‘The queen of women’ is a title reserved for the most prominent and accomplished woman in the community. Her business holdings are vast and maintained by her personal slaves. She has her own deputies and personal warriors. An infamous Iyalode in history is 'Efusetan Aniwura of Ibadan'
The Ifa priest is a highly respected oracle that enjoys the patronage of the king.The Oluwo resides in his shrine outside the general dwelling area. He has apprentices who serve and learn under him.

Also called ‘Jagun’, the 'Balogun' is the war chief. He is usually the bravest man recognized and selected by the 'Baales' (vassal kings) or 'Oba' to handle affairs of security and defense in their domain. He leads a group of lieutenants who in turn lead their own soldiers. 

The 'Esos' are regarded as ‘guardians of the kingdom’. This is a highly coveted military rank reserved for proven soldiers. Although it is not a hereditary, the 'Eso' title derives from the 'Ikoyi' family line renowned for their skill in warfare. .

The 'Ilaris' are both male and female and number in their hundreds. They are created specially to serve the king in his palace. Their initiation is a series of rituals involving charms and cuts that are supposed to imbue them with special powers.

Here are the pencil drawings for the characters. 
Copyright 2011 Olusola Akinseye