The Meaning of Aria Nzu in Arochukwu


Picture of Aria Nzu by Aro Okeigbo Blog
Okwa Nzu
Ari Nzu or okwa nzu is a native formed plate made of wood,  have geometric ornamentation, especially on their outer rims and the removable pepper-lid, thereby implying an ancestral presence. This visual resemblance, however, may be by chance or out of fortunate rather than intentional. These bowls are carved in heavy (male) woods and normally have geometric ornamentation, especially on their outer rims and the removable pepper-lid. Some have human heads… and, more rarely, full figures and animals integrated into the lid. It is the most respected and valued method for  every indigenous son of Arochukwu uses while  presenting kola to a visitor.
Ari Nzu or Okwa Nzu is sometimes formed with four internal divisions, which normally have a bowl and an anthropomorphized handle and thus an overall spoon-like shape.
Aria Nzu is most often seen in the house of well meaningful and cultured Aro Man.
For Example, when you visit the palace of any meaningful Eze in Arochukwu, be it an Eze Ogo, Eze Ibom Isii, Eze Eze Agwu or Even Eze Aro, he is not expected to present kola to his visitor using any other means than putting the kola in the Aria Nzu, if at all he know his role and Aro Cultures.
Aria Nzu have many significant meaning in Arochukwu, which literally is believed to have ancestral connection connecting with our ancestors.
Aria Nzu are often housed among the equipment of family,  Ndi Ezes  and community shrines where they seem to take decision on  certain sacred decisions by individuals or  association, even if they are not obviously sacred vessels in and of themselves.
Picture of a native white chalk
A plate filled with native white chalk

A hierarchy of such serving dishes exists where Aria Nzu are  central lidded cavity in which condiments such as alligator, kola, garden egg, bitter cola, pepper and pepper mashed with peanuts and other presentable  gifts or foods are placed.
 In human eye and immergination, Aria Nzu or Okwa Nzu are often resemble of carved images inform of a woman, as Nnadozie Victor Onyemaobi has pointed out, thereby implying an ancestral presence.
We do not find these representations deeply symbolic but, rather, manifestations of the relative affluence of the bowls’ owners. This idea is extended to such worldly items as bottle or calabash stoppers.
In our present day of Nigeria, Aria Nzu are most common among eastern and northeastern Igbo, who are doubtless the inventors of the type.

  Aria Nzu or Okwa Oji are rarely encountered among the peoples of the northwest, who seem to prefer a simpler plates with relatively little artistic embellishment or design.
Bringing the issue of Aria Nzu home where many have believed that Aria Nzu is a person who is representing an absent Eze or kinging on behalf of an Eze which is physically unfit or something of the same nature.
This ascerssion or belief  is 100% wrong and misleading. 
The reason why a person who is kinging on behalf of another person is referred as Aria Nzu in Aro is because literally Aria Nzu is Kola Container used in presenting Kola to a visitor which implies that you are welcoming him or her without any fear or grudges, attributing this definition to we (Human being) it means that you are a Kola Presenter, presenting on behalf  of another person.
Let’s remove that mindset that Aria Nzu is a deputy or a vice personality to the original person, it simple mean that you are a Kola Presenter attending to visitors when the father of the house is not around.

Nzu Oke and Nzu Nne

Your work is believed to present kola to visitors and give the Legal Eze feed back on the issues or discussions had with the visitors.
In our present Aro, due to some uncertainties the present Eze has not been physically fit to carry out his duties thereby leaving it for the Aria Nzu, which doesn’t mean that he is his deputy like the way we do in Nigeria (When a president is not on seat the vice takes control).

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