An Old Yoruba Twins Couple – Ibeji – Nigeria


Wood. An Ibeji couple standing on square bases wearing colourful glass beads and brass rings; some age cracks, signs of age and use.

The Female figure is cm. 29,7 (11.69″); grams 304,2 (10.73 oz.);

The Male figure is cm. 29,0 (11.42″); grams 351,0 (12.38″).

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.


  • Catalogue of the Ibeji – Fausto Polo, Jean David. Zürich.
  • Stoll, G. and M., Ibeji: Twin Figures of the Yoruba, Munich, 1980


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Additional information

Weight2020 g