African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Ibeji Twins
Couple d' Ere Ibeji Yoruba Igbomina (N° 18808)
The ibeji in African art.
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In the language of the Yoruba people, ibeji means twin: ibi for born and eji for two. They represent the figure of a deceased twin.
This ibeji is then treated as the missing child would have been. It is the mother who must take care of him; she can wash and feed him regularly. If she dies, the remaining twin takes over.
Considered as much more than a physical representation of a loved one, the ibeji influences the life of the family, that is why the family continues to pray to him and to dedicate cults and libations to him.
These pieces are among the most famous art objects of the Yoruba ethnic group. In fact, the occurrence of twinning in this ethnic group is stronger than anywhere else in Black Africa. This particularity has naturally influenced and integrated their statuary.
Twins are heterozygous as evidenced by their different physical attributes. They wear abiku, a set of apotropaic ornaments formed here of pearl necklaces.
A high ogival headdress stands on the head and is inlaid with blue pigment known for its magical virtues.
Their characteristics make it possible to attribute them to the type from the Igbomina region. Among these features are the position of the arms, the thick neck, and the cap with two small protrusions.
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