The Dahomey Amazons or Mino were a Fon all-female military regiment of the Kingdom of Dahomey(present Benin) which lasted until the end of the 19th century. They were so named by Western observers and historians due to their similarity to the semi-mythical Amazons.
The Amazon army corps, made up of female warriors, is said to have been established by King Agadja (1708-1740). His father, King Houégbadja, had already created a detachment of “elephant huntresses” (gbeto) who were also bodyguards. But Agadja developed the female bodyguard into a militia. The group of female warriors was referred to as Mino, meaning “Our Mothers” in the Fon language, by the male army of Dahomey.
E. Chaudoin in “Three months in captivity in Dahomey” describes them as follows in 1891:
“There they are, 4,000 warriors, the 4,000 black virgins of Dahomey, the monarch’s bodyguard, motionless in their war garments, with gun and knife in hand, ready to leap forward at the master’s signal.
Old or young, ugly or beautiful, they are wonderful to look at. They are as well built as the male warriors and their attitude is just as disciplined and correct, lined up as though against a rope”.