Hearst Museum Portal

Ere ibeji figure

Museum number:
5-15808
Permalink:
ark:/21549/hm21050015808
Alternate number:
269 (original number)
Accession number:
Acc.4661
Object count:
1
Description:
Figure, twin (Ibeji), wood, handcarved; male, with elongated headdress, wearing grass skirt; hands closed in fist, resting on hips; bead bracelet, necklace, and anklets (two on each foot); stylized feet resting on keystone-shaped base.
Donor:
Berta Bascom
Collection place:
Abeokuta, Nigeria
Verbatim coll. place:
West Africa; Nigeria; Yoruba; Abeokuta; Carved by Adugbologe or his son Makinde.
Culture or time period:
Yoruba
Maker or artist:
Adugbologe
Collector:
Berta Bascom and William Russell Bascom
Collection date:
unknown
Object type:
ethnography
Function:
5.3 Objects relating to the Secular and Quasi-religious Rites, Pageants, and Drama
Accession date:
December 12, 1994
Context of use:
The incidence of twin births among the Yoruba is exceptionally high; so too is the infant mortality rate. Upon the death of one or both of the twins, ibeji, small wood surrogates are carved, since twins are looked upon as powerful spirits. The carvings, ere ibeji, must be washed, fed, clothed, and generally tended as though they were living twins, and for as long a period as divination may prescribe. When twins are born to a woman of royal lineage, they must qualify, in the event of their death, for special beaded garments, ordered from the crown-maker. May either be individual dresses or double ones, incorporating both the ere ibeji in a single wide garment with two neck holes. Similar garments covered with cowrie shells symbolize the wealth which twins can bring to those who acknowledge their power. (Fagg & Pemberton: p. 199). Collector's note: "Beads probably indicates Shango worshipper.
Department:
Cat. 5 - Africa (except the Hearst Reisner Egyptian Collection)
Dimensions:
width 6 centimeters and height 24 centimeters
Images:
Legacy documentation: