Old Yoruba Figure – Ibeji – Nigeriaamazigh
Early to mid 20th century. Wood. Cm. 27,7 high x (10.90″); Grams 127,90 (4.51 oz).
A fine Ibeji with a domed cap, standing on an almost square base, big feet, the hands resting flat against the thighs, a bracelet on each wrist, tapering protruding belly, small breasts, an oval head with a very high cap is sitting on the strong neck, two formerly red beaded strings around neck and hips; the base has a crack at the back, a fine hairline crack is going through the back part of cap, head and neck, remains of camwood.
Ibeji is the name of an Orisha representing a pair of twins in the Yoruba religion of the Yoruba people (originating from Yorubaland, an area in and around present-day Nigeria). In Yoruba culture and spirituality, twins are believed to be magical, and are granted protection by the Orisha Shango. If one twin should die, it represents bad fortune for the parents and the society to which they belong. The parents therefore commission a babalawo to carve a wooden Ibeji to represent the deceased twin, and the parents take care of the figure as if it were a real person. Other than the sex, the appearance of the Ibeji is determined by the sculptor. The parents then dress and decorate the ibeji to represent their own status, using clothing made from cowrie shells, as well as beads, coins and paint.