Ere Ibeji (Male twin figure) - 2013.57.2_1


Ere Ibeji (Male twin figure)

Maker: Oniyide Adugbologe
Medium:Wood, vegetable fibre, and cowrie shells
Geography: Abeokuta, Nigeria
Date: Collected in 1967
Object number: 2013.57.2
Credit Line: Gift of Jack Lieber
On view
Gallery Location:Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific

Standing male twin figure with crested hairdo, scarification marks on the cheeks, temples, and forehead, carved loincloth decorated with zigzag motifs, and a string of cowrie shells decorating his left wrist. The decoration of the apron connects this figure with the god Shango from which Ibejis are believed to derive their power. The base of the figure is marked with an incised cross which has been identified as Adugbologe's signature.
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.

Global Africa
If you see an error or have additional information, please contact us by clicking here.