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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Path of the Leopard: Motherhood and Majesty in Early Danhome
Author:Blier, Suzanne P.ISNI
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic term:Benin
Subjects:Dahomey polity
myths (form)
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Women's Issues
Cultural Roles
Women and Their Children
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/182468
Abstract:History was of critical importance in ancient Danhomè (Danxomè, Dahomey), the Fon kingdom which now forms part of the Republic of Benin. This article examines Danhomè myths of dynastic origin, offering at once a critique and counternarrative to the official dynastic history. Critical to this counternarrative are the early women of the State, most importantly the mothers and wives of the first rulers. The provocative stories of these women not only add an important human dimension to Danhomè history but also raise important methodological issues, for events associated with their lives contradict much of what has been previously written about the origins of this kingdom. In Danhomè, events associated with the beginning of the dynasty were mythologized into an elaborate fiction of leopard birth and incest. While scholars have long questioned this account's veracity, to date a coherent alternative has been lacking. Through an analysis of the stories of these royal women, the forging of a new history of the kingdom's origins is now possible. Notes, ref., sum.