African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Ibeji Yoruba
Ibeji Yoruba (N° 22390)
Ibeji statuettes, incarnation of the missing child in African Yoruba art.
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Large almond-shaped eyes, notched scarifications on the face, braids collected in a crest generally illustrate the aesthetic traditions of African Yoruba art. This female effigy wears necklaces of pearls and cowries and a wooden torque. These adornments had a protective function.
Shiny patina, indigo 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 take care of them; she can 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 it and to devote worship and libations to it.
There are dozens of different stylistic currents for these famous pieces. A careful comparative study has been carried out by Fausto Polo and Jean David in the book Catalogue of the Ibeji