A female Ibeji figure with a domed, striated headdress; resinous, partly shiny patina.
This carved wooden sculpture from West Africa represents the souls of deceased twins. These carvings are called ere ibeji (‘ere’ means sacred image, ‘ibi’, means born and ‘eji’ means two). The family look after this figure as if it were alive: feeding, bathing, clothing, carrying it like a baby, and performing rituals on significant occasions, to ensure the balance of the shared soul. These figures show evidence of the years of attention and care they have been given, their facial features worn smooth with the handling they have received. Today mothers will also use commercially produced plastic dolls in place of the wooden ere ibeji.
Dr. Peri Klemm, “Ere Ibeji Figures (Yoruba peoples),” in Smarthistory, December 11, 2016, accessed October 28, 2019, https://smarthistory.org/ere-figures-yoruba-peoples/se.
Height: 31 cm
Weight: 270 g