Ere ibeji (Female twin figure) - 2010.45.4.2_1

2010.45.4.2_1

Ere ibeji (Female twin figure)

Maker: Unidentified Yoruba artist or workshop
Medium:Wood, vegetable fibre, glass beads, metal, and pigment
Geography: Nigeria
Date: 1967
Dimensions:
28.9 x 8.5 x 7.8 cm
Object number: 2010.45.4.2
Credit Line: The Jack Lieber Collection of Yoruba Art.
On view
Gallery Location:Shreyas and Mina Ajmera Gallery of Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific
Description

Standing female figure with elaborate crown-like conical hairdo, small protruding breasts, and metal and glass bead ornaments around the waist, wrists and ankles. This figure forms a pair with 2010.45.4.1.
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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