A PAIR OF FEMALE IBEJIS
Provenance: Philip Goldman, London
The Yoruba people of Nigeria look upon the birth of twins as a special blessing; they also have one of the highest rates of twin births in the world. Due to the high mortality rate among twins, Yoruba mothers are frequently faced with the death of a cherished child. In view of this reality, mothers often commission a carver to create a small wooden figure -ere ibeji – to serve as a repository for the soul of the deceased. The figures are cared for by the mother as her living children. She believes that twins have the power to bring good fortune, wealth, and blessings; hence, twin surrogate statues are treated with respect and great attention. Statues are ritually oiled and washed in special herbal baths. They are symbolically rubbed with food and occupy a special place in the household. At times of festivals, they are held by the mother.
Yoruba, Nigeria, Africa,
Late 19th, early 20th century, wood, coconut and stone beads, 28 cm each