Ere Ibeji (Female twin figure) - 2013.57.1.2_1


Ere Ibeji (Female twin figure)

Maker: Unidentified Yoruba artist
Medium:Wood, vegetable fibre, glass beads, and seeds
Geography: Nigeria
Date: Collected in 1967
Object number: 2013.57.1.2
Credit Line: Gift of Jack Lieber
On view
Gallery Location:Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific
DescriptionStanding female figure with double-crested hairdo, scarification marks on the cheeks and forehead, and neck, arms, waist, and ankle beaded ornaments. The facial features and scarifications are very crisply carved. This figure is part of a pair with 2013.57.1.1, collected in Ilora in 1967. Although the two figures were collected as a pair and present similarities in the facial features, decorations and patina, they are also quite distinct in size and proportions.
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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