Ere Ibeji (Twin Figure)Late19th century - Mid 20th century
9.45 x 2.76 x 2.76 in. (24.003 x 7.01 x 7.01 cm)
Bryn Mawr College
The mother of the deceased child will care for the ere ibeji just as she cares for the living twin. It will be washed, moisturized, clothed, and fed. It is believed that proper care of the ere ibeji ensures that the deceased twin will not lure the living twin to join it. When a parent can no longer care for the figure, it becomes the responsibility of the living twin. If an ere ibeji is left without a keeper, it is given to an iya’beji, a woman who cares for all abandoned twin figures.
Presently, it is growing less and less common to have an ere ibeji made. Instead, photos are sometimes used to represent a deceased twin.
This object has the following keywords:
- African - Refers to the cultures of the continent of Africa, which is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea.
- beads - Refers to small objects, of any shape or material, pierced so that they may be strung or hung or attached, as by sewing.
- carving - The act of shaping, marking, or decorating wood, stone, or another material by cutting or incising, typically using tools such as chisels and other blades. It refers to this process as it is applied to small-scale objects or to objects that are not considered art. "Carving" may also be considered a sculpture technique that is employed in the creation of art.
- ere ibeji - Anthropomorphic figures carved by the Yoruba people of Africa in memory of a deceased twin or twins.
- female - Referring to the sex that normally produces eggs or female germ cells.
- ritual objects - Objects used for a particular ritual activity, often as part of a ceremony.
- scarifications - Refers to permanent marks, such as symbols, patterns, or other designs, made on human skin by scarring, done for social or cultural reasons or for personal decoration.
- tacks - Small, sharp-pointed nail-like fasteners of iron or brass with a comparatively large head and used for fastening a light or thin object to something more solid.
- twins - Two siblings conceived, carried in the womb, and usually born at the same time. They may be identical, as when one fertilized egg splits, or fraternal, as when two eggs are individually fertilized.
- West African - Styles and cultures from the region comprising the westernmost area of the African continent, defined by the United Nations as including the modern nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
- wood - The principal tissue of trees and other plants that provides both strength and a means of conducting nutrients. Wood is one of the most versatile materials known.
This object was included in the following exhibitions:
- Exhibiting Africa: Ways of Seeing, Knowing, and Showing Bryn Mawr College , Jan 25, 2017 – Mar 5, 2017
Owner Name: Jane Martin, Class of 1953
Place: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Ownership Start Date: July, 1985
Ownership End Date: May 1, 2016
Owner Name: Muhammed Sillah
Ownership End Date: July, 1985
Remarks: Likely purchased in Monrovia, Liberia
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
- Fausto Polo, "Ibeji Archive." (Accessed July 23, 2020): http://ibejiarchive.com/. Record No.: 51V14.
- Fausto Polo, "Ibeji Archive." (Accessed July 23, 2020): http://ibejiarchive.com/. Record No.: 51V15.
- Gert Stoll and Mareidi Stoll. Ibeji: Zwillingsfiguren der Yoruba (Munich, Germany: Authors, January 1, 1980), 182. Figure Number: 74
- George Chemeche, Ibeji: The Cult of Yoruba Twins (Milan, Italy: 5 Continents Editions srl, 2003), 111. Figure Number: 59
The following Related Bibliography exist for this object:
- Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi and Carol Thompson. "Embodying the Sacred in Yoruba Art: Featuring the Bernard and Patricia WagnerCollection: A Case Study in Museum Practice." African Arts 42, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 32-43.
- Jacob K. Olupọna, "The Study of Yoruba Religious Tradition in Historical Perspective." Numen 40, no. 3 (Sept. 1993): 251-255.
- Mary Nooter Roberts, "The Inner Eye: Vision and Transcendence in African Arts." African Arts 50, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 60-79.
- Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi and Carol Thompson. "Embodying the Sacred in Yoruba Art: Featuring the Bernard and Patricia WagnerCollection: A Case Study in Museum Practice." African Arts 42, no. 2 (Summer 2009): 42, Figure Number: 17.
- "Ere Ibeji Figures (Yoruba peoples) – Smarthistory." (Accessed April 13, 2020): https://smarthistory.org/ere-figures-yoruba-peoples/.
- "National Museums of Scotland: Online Collections Database." (Accessed April 5, 2020): National Museums of Scotland, https://www.nms.ac.uk/explore-our-collections/search-our-collections/. https://www.nms.ac.uk/explore-our-collections/stories/world-cultures/ere-ibeji-figures/.
- Gert Stoll and Mareidi Stoll. Ibeji: Zwillingsfiguren der Yoruba (Munich, Germany: Authors, January 1, 1980), 181.
- Robert Farris Thompson, "Sons of Thunder: Twin Images among the Oyo and Other Yoruba Groups." African Arts 4, no. 3 (Spring 1971): 8-13, 77-80.
- George Chemeche, Ibeji: The Cult of Yoruba Twins (Milan, Italy: 5 Continents Editions srl, 2003), 27-29.
- Stefan Eisenhofer, ed. Kulte, Künstler, Könige in Afrika: Tradition und Moderne in Südnigeria (Linz, Austria: des Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseums, 1977), 232-241.
Ere Ibeji (Twin Figure)
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