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Mace and Helen Katz Neufeld Collection

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Image of Ere Ibeji (Twin Figure)

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Bookmark: http://triarte.brynmawr.edu/objects-1/info/145844



unknown Owu
Yoruba Primary



Ere Ibeji (Twin Figure)

Late 19th century - Mid 20th century
Carved wood with pigment

9.5 x 3.25 x 3 in. (24.13 x 8.255 x 7.62 cm)

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 99.5.4
Other Number(s): 84-25B (Neufeld Collection Number)
Geography: Africa, Nigeria, Ibadan
Classification: Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts; Ritual Objects
Culture/Nationality: Owu, Ibadan, Yoruba, Nigerian, West African, African
Collection: Neufeld Collection
Nigeria has the highest incidence of twin births of any country in the world. Among the Yoruba, twins are regarded as blessed spiritual beings who bring wealth to their families. When a twin passes away, the parents consult a babalawo (priest or diviner), who will advise the family to have an ere ibeji, or twin figure, carved to represent the gender of the deceased twin and become the residence of the twin’s spirit.

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.

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
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.
  • carvings - Refers to works executed by cutting a figure or design out of a solid material such as stone or wood. It typically refers to works that are relatively small in size, are part of a larger work, or are not considered art. For large and medium-sized three-dimensional works of art, use the broader term "sculpture" or another appropriate term.
  • male - Referring to the sex that in reproduction normally produces sperm cells or male gametes.
  • necklaces - Ornaments worn around the neck, usually in the form of chains or strands of beads, pearls, stones, or decorative or precious materials, and often including a suspended ornamental pendant. Use "chokers" for short, narrow necklaces worn close to the throat. Use "dog collars (necklaces)" for wide ornamental bands worn tightly around the neck.
  • Nigerian
  • ritual objects - Objects used for a particular ritual activity, often as part of a ceremony.
  • 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.
  • Yoruba

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Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:
  • African and Pacific Art from the Neufeld Collection Bryn Mawr College , Apr 28, 1993 – Jun 1, 1993

  • Owner Name: Mace Neufeld and Helen Katz Neufeld, Class of 1953
    Role: Donor
    Place: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US
    Ownership End Date: 7/18/1991


Comparanda List
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
  • Fausto Polo, "Ibeji Archive." (Accessed July 23, 2020): http://ibejiarchive.com/. Record No.: 29V05.
  • Gert Stoll and Mareidi Stoll. Ibeji: Zwillingsfiguren der Yoruba (Munich, Germany: Authors, January 1, 1980), 178. Figure Number: 71
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): AHDRC.eu. Record No.: 0155303.
  • George Chemeche, Ibeji: The Cult of Yoruba Twins (Milan, Italy: 5 Continents Editions srl, 2003), 148. Figure Number: 105

Related Bibliography List
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.
  • 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.
  • "The Met Online Collections Database." The Met Collection. (Accessed April 9, 2020): The Metropolitan Museum of Art, https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/. Accession No.: :1979.527.21.
  • Gert Stoll and Mareidi Stoll. Ibeji: Zwillingsfiguren der Yoruba (Munich, Germany: Authors, January 1, 1980), 168-171.
  • 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.

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<ref name=BMC>cite web |url=http://triarte.brynmawr.edu/objects-1/info/145844 |title=Ere Ibeji (Twin Figure) |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=7/2/2022 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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