Ibeji Figures (Twin Cult) - Female

Yoruba

Federal Republic of Nigeria

Ibeji Figures (Twin Cult) - Female, n.d.

  • On View

Wood

Dimensions: 9 1/2 × 3 1/2 × 4 in. (24.1 × 8.9 × 10.2 cm)

Gift of Justice and Mrs. G. Mennen Williams, 1973.35

The Yoruba peoples consider twins spiritual children who possess great power capable of bringing their family happiness, health, and prosperity, but also disaster, disease, and death. It is thought that twins share one soul. If one twin dies in infancy the balance of their soul is greatly disturbed and the living twin imperiled. To counteract this danger a family commissioned a figure carved in wood to host the soul. The family then cares for the figure as if it were living: feeding it, bathing it, and clothing it. If both twins die in infancy a figure is made for each. These figures are known as ere ibeji. These two twin figures, a boy and a girl, are carved with the facial features of their family’s ancestors.

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