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Pair of Twin Figures (Ere Ibeji)

African Art

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Pair of Twin Figures (Ere Ibeji)

Artwork Details


Yoruba Artist


Nineteenth century


Wood, pigment, beads, and cowrie shells

Accession #



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Currently Not on View


Ère ìbejì figures represent deceased twin children. In Yoruba communities, twins are much admired and believed to share one soul. If a twin dies, a figure is carved to please the spirit of the deceased. If neglected, its spirit might become offended or feel abandoned and invite the soul of the twin sibling to leave the material world to join it in “the beyond.” These figures’ elaborate ceremonial coiffures are rubbed with a powdered dye called Rickett’s blueing, which was used by the British to whiten laundry during the colonial period. The smooth, worn surfaces of these twin figures show that they have been devotedly cared for.


Fred and Rita Richman Collection