Ibeji-tvilling (single), Yoruba, Nigeria
Provenance: Private collection 1950s.
The Yoruba, a people of around 2.5 million individuals, live mainly in
the southwest of Nigeria and the south of Benin. The Yoruba are known for having an extraordinarily high rate of multiple births. The rate of twin births is one of the highest in the world. There is also a high mortality rate; half of the twins die shortly after birth. Among the Yoruba, twins (ibeji) are special children whose birth can bless their parents with good fortune. The loss of twins is therefore considered a great misfortune. If a twin dies, the mother commissions a memorial figure (two if both twins die), and the soul of the deceased twin is transferred to it.