Ere Ibeji (Female twin figure) - 2010.45.19_1


Ere Ibeji (Female twin figure)

Maker: Unidentified Yoruba artist
Geography: Oyo, Nigeria
Date: before 1967
25 x 8.3 x 5.4 cm
Object number: 2010.45.19
Credit Line: The Jack Lieber Collection of Yoruba Art.
Not on view
DescriptionStanding female figure with narrow head, scarification marks on the cheeks, conical hairdo, and arched arms over triangular-shaped body. Extensive signs of wear on the face, whose features are almost completely erased, and on the back. This figurine was collected in Oyo. Ere ibeji are figurines carved to house the spirit of a deceased twin. The Yoruba have the highest rate of twin births in the world. Since twins tend to be more delicate babies, it is not uncommon for one or both to die during or shortly after childbirth. Because the Yoruba believe that twins have great spiritual power, and can bring either prosperity or misfortune to a household, it is important to keep the spirit of a deceased twin appeased, and prevent the spirit of the living twin from wishing to join its partner. When the mother receives the ere ibeji figure, it is bathed, clothed, and fed just like a living child. Today, people may also use commercially produced dolls or even photos as “twin figures” in the ibeji worship.
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