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Pair of Twin Figures (Ere Ibeji)

African Art

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Pair of Twin Figures (Ere Ibeji)

Artwork Details

Artist/Maker

Yoruba Artist
Nigeria

Date

Nineteenth century

Medium

Wood, pigment, beads, and cowrie shells

Accession #

2002.287.2

Dimensions

14 × 3 1/2 × 4 1/2 inches

Location

Currently Not on View

Description

Ère ìbejì figures represent deceased twin children. In Yoruba communities, twins are much admired and believed to share one soul. If a twin dies, a figure is carved to please the spirit of the deceased. If neglected, its spirit might become offended or feel abandoned and invite the soul of the twin sibling to leave the material world to join it in “the beyond.” These figures’ elaborate ceremonial coiffures are rubbed with a powdered dye called Rickett’s blueing, which was used by the British to whiten laundry during the colonial period. The smooth, worn surfaces of these twin figures show that they have been devotedly cared for.

Credit

Fred and Rita Richman Collection