Yoruba Ibeji Twin Figure
Material: Wood, pigment, beads, cowrie shells.
Size: 13.5" (34.3 cm) Tall.
The Yoruba are known for their extraordinarily high rate of multiple births and one of the highest in the world as regards twin birth. At one point in the past twins known as Ibeji, were thought by the Yoruba to be evil and were quickly killed as they were considered to be monsters and abnormal. However, a cult of twins developed in which the twins were now seen to be minor deities who blessed their families with good fortune. The death of either of the twins or both is thought to be calamitous for the family that must be remedied by appeasing the soul of the deceased child through the carving of a figure put in the care of the mother who will treat the small wooden figure as though it were the deceased twin and alive.
Ere ibeji are also identified with the Yoruba Thunder God Shango who is known by red and blue beads as worn by this old figure around the waist, wrists or neck and often by the application of blue indigo to the hair. Ere ibeji are carved as small children with adult attributes as to sex, breasts and hairstyles and as a result they are fixed in time as adults.