Esie is an Igbomina Yoruba town in Kwara State of Nigeria lying about 48 kilometres South-East of Ilorin and about 128 kilometer north of Ife. Esie is generally known as a home of 800 soapstone figures. The Origin of Soapstone figures is bewildering. Till date, it still remains a mystery. Indeed, nobody knows how these stone images exactly came about but a few explanations have been offered by inhabitants of the city. The most popular among them is that the 800 stone images were rebellious settlers who were turned into stone images.
The source claimed that these rebellious settlers were from another tribe of Yoruba-Land who sent words to Elesie (traditional chief of Esie land) that they were coming to settle down in his town but to their utter disappointment, they did not see anybody to receive them hence they settled outside the city of Esie.
It later became known that these settlers became a threat to the security of the city. They were undermining the administration of the chief and were about to rebel and as a result, the god of the land, being on the side of Elesie of Esie, turned these recalcitrant set of 800 settlers into stone statutes.
Ironically, the Esie people worship them annually. However, most of these soapstone figures have lost either heads or limbs. They appear to represent a variety of people. Some are men while some are women. A particular one, adorned with the tall cap neck and wrist beads was said to be their king.
It is this one that receives the annual sacrifice offered by the Esie people on behalf of others. The soapstone figures of Esie are largest collection of stone carvings still in Black Africa. They were found in groves outside the town of Esie.