Pair of Yoruba ibeji figures

yoruba-ibeji-figures-2.jpg
yoruba-ibeji-figures-2.jpg

Pair of Yoruba ibeji figures

1,075.00

Carved wood with beaded detail.

Measurements:
Heights: 10½ and 11 in. (26.7 and 27 cm.)

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Further Information on Ibeji Figures:

Ibeji figures are traditionally created to commemorate twins in Yoruba culture.  With the highest recorded rate of twin births in the world – approximately 45 for every 1,000 births – the Yoruba of southwest Nigeria place great prominence on twin births. According to their beliefs, every person has a double in the heavens. Twins are children who are born along with their heavenly counterpart. The name for twins in Yoruba is ibeji, meaning “born two times”, which is also the name of the divinity that protects them.  Considered to possess special powers, twins can bring great fortune to those who properly honor them. 

The Ibeji figures are often carved with elaborate hairstyles and beaded jewellery to signify their elevated status, with stylistic aesthetics being a product of varying artists (babalawo) and regions.  Figures serve as a repository for the soul of the departed, and placed in the care of the mother, who honors them as she would her own children.  Ibeji are given great attention and respect, often being oiled and washed in special herbal baths, symbolically rubbed with food, and must occupy a significant place within the household.  During festivals or large celebrations, the mother caresses and dances with the figures.  The tellurian ibeji provide a connection between the mother and the souls of her twins, hence the necessity to cherish and enshrine the figures, as dishonoring the ibeji can lead to misfortune for the family and their respective society.

The diversity, as well as the artistic and emotional value of twin sculptures, sparked an interest of numerous collectors of African art from around the world. Today, these objects are featured in many museum and gallery collections around the world.