African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Yoruba figure
Ibeji Yoruba figure (N° 20526)
Ibeji statuettes, incarnation of the missing child in African Yoruba art.
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Large, almond-shaped eyes, deep scarification marks on the face, and braids sprouting from a high crest, generally illustrate the aesthetic traditions of African Yoruba art. Solidly set on a flat support, this male effigy, represented naked, has a shiny brown patina with
brown patina with pink ochre highlights.
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.
These African statuettes named ibeji are then treated as the missing child would have been. It is the mother who must care for them; she may wash and feed them regularly. If she dies, the remaining twin takes over.
Considered as much more than a physical representation of a loved one, the ibedji influences the life of the family, which is why the latter continues to address prayers to him and to dedicate cults and libations to him.
These pieces are among the most famous art objects of the Yoruba ethnic group. Indeed, the occurrence of twins in this ethnic group is stronger than anywhere else in Black Africa. This particularity has naturally influenced and integrated their statuary.
There are in fact dozens of different stylistic trends for these famous pieces. A careful comparative study was made by Fausto Polo and Jean David in the book Catalogue of the Ibeji
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