Ere Ibeji (Female twin figure) - 2010.45.2.2_4


Ere Ibeji (Female twin figure)

Maker: Ayo Adugbologe
Medium:Wood, fibre, glass beads
Geography: Abeokuta, Nigeria
Date: before 1970
20.6 x 7.7 x 7.5 cm
Object number: 2010.45.2.2
Credit Line: The Jack Lieber Collection of Yoruba Art.
Not on view

Standing female twin figure with elaborate cornrows hairdo, scarification marks on the cheeks, prominent breasts, and glass bead ornaments around the neck and waist. The specific style of this figure, and its male twin (2010.45.2.1), carved with a prominent empty space between the thumb and the hand, and between the arms and the body, is characteristic of the Adugbologe school of Abeokuta. A triangle carved on the base of the figure is a maker’s mark of the carver Ayo Adugbologe.
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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