West Africa, Nigeria, Yoruba peoples, ca. early 20th century CE. A male Ere Ibeji twin figure representing a deceased twin, hand carved from a single piece of wood, standing with his hands to his thighs, upon an integral round platform. The Ibeji is nude with delineated male genitalia accentuated by nearby scarification marks. His face is delineated with large, almond-shaped eyes with a metal pupils and incised lashes, a wide nose, incised smile full lips, and scarification marks gracing his chin, cheeks, and forehead. His ears are perforated for the suspension of additional ornaments. He bears an upswept coiffure that is intricately carved with stylized geometric motifs and striations and further embellished with organic blue indigo pigment. The Ibeji is bedecked with beads - a single strand of white cylindrical beads around his neck, a single strand of small white beads around each ankle and wrist with an additional red and green beaded bracelet on the left wrist, and three strands around his waist (one of yellow and green beads, one on smaller green and red beads, and one comprised of a metal coil and a single blue cylindrical bead). According to the Yoruba, twin effigies are believed to influence the daily lives of family members. As such, they are traditionally honored with prayers and libations. A very fine example with a nice patina and remains of red cinnabar pigment. Size: 3.25" W x 12" H (8.3 cm x 30.5 cm)
For context: The Yoruba are known for their carved sculptures of deceased male and female twin figures, known as Ibeji. The Yoruba have one of the highest number of twin births in the world, four times higher than in Europe, for example. Ibeji are known to the Yoruba as two people who share one soul. If one of the human twins dies, whether as a child or an adult, the surviving human twin is considered to have little hope of living with only half a soul. Further, the deceased's soul must have a place to reside. Hence, an ibeji figure is created.
Provenance: Ex-Adeon Gallery, Chicago, IL, acquired prior to 1970.
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