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Ethnographic & Tribal Masks and Sculptures

First half 20th C., Nigeria, Yoruba People, Rare pair of very old Yoruba Ibeji Figures .

Price 3.950 €


The Yoruba of Nigeria and of the Benin Republic are known for having an extraordinarily high rate of twin births. In earlier times, new-born twins, or ibej, as they were called, were believed to be evil, monstrous abnormalities and infanticide was a common practice. However such beliefs and practices were later superseded and reversed, and by the middle of the 18th century twins came to be seen as a blessing. They were awarded the status of minor deities, called Orishas, and their arrival was viewed as an omen of good fortune for the family. By the 19th century the cult of the Ere Ibej was firmly established and continues to this day. The death of one or both twins is regarded as a great calamity for the family, one which requires immediate appeasement of the soul of the deceased child.

Ere Ibej come from; Ibi = born and eji = two; ere means sacred image.

These ibeji were produced for mourning parents, these two figures were made as a memorial for the deceased twins of a family. Families take comfort in the belief that a spiritual mother is caring for and guarding the departed child. They have a similar esthetic to the images used during the festival of Ere. The figures are made of wood, pigment, beads, metal insets in the eyes. The range of expression achieved by Yoruba carvers was extraordinary.

H x W x D

31 x 8 x 8 cm