Ibeji Twins

ANK 1219-1    

Yoruba Ibeji Twin Pair, Nigeria    

This well carved pair of Yoruba Ibeji twin figures appear with a beautiful glow that will adorn in any African collection.

Among the Yoruba people twins are regarded as something special. They have their own god, ‘Ere Ibeji’, are honoured in a separate cult and are considered to bring good fortune and blessing to their family. Another peculiarity is that twins are thought to share one and same soul! Should one of them die, a ‘vicarious figure’ of wood is carved for him (or her), in order to preserve the integrity of the mutual ‘twin soul’. These figures, called ‘Ibeji’, are placed on specific domestic altars and treated like living twins: they are washed, fed, cuddled, sung to and honoured. The present ‘Ibeji-couple’, male and female, displays a very beautiful, old shiny patina as a result of long care, decorative necklaces around the neck, waist and ankles mixed with cowries, remains of dark colouring (as a result of ‘bluing’) in the characteristic hairstyle, on the genitals, as well as on the feet and base plate. Regional stylistic type: Oyo.

Age: Between about 1900 and the first third of the 20th century.

Measure: Male: H: 25 cm. Female: 25 cm.


Provenance: Belgian private collection.

Literature.: ‘Ibeji’ by Georges Chemeche, ill. 88, 95 to 104.

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