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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/145795



Attributed to
Ogunwuyi Fakeye
Yoruba (1890 – 1965) Primary



Ere Ibeji (Twin Figure)

1920 - 1965
Carved and incised wood with pigment

11 7/16 in. x 3 9/16 in. x 3 1/8 in. (29 cm x 9 cm x 8 cm)

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 99.3.7
Other Number(s): 160 (G) (Neufeld Collection Number)
Geography: Africa, Nigeria, Ila Orangun
Classification: Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts; Ritual Objects
Culture/Nationality: igbomina, Ila Orangun, 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.
  • ere ibeji - Anthropomorphic figures carved by the Yoruba people of Africa in memory of a deceased twin or twins.
  • Igbomina
  • indigo - A natural dark blue colorant obtained from the tropical Indigofera tinctoria plants. The use of indigo was first mentioned in Indian manuscripts in the 4th century BCE; it was first exported to Europe in Roman times. The natural material is collected as a precipitate from a fermented solution of the plant, where the coloring component, indigotin, is extracted as a colorless glycoside that turns blue with oxidation. Indigo is a fine, intense powder which may be used directly as a pigment in oil, tempera, or watercolor media. Since the exposed pigment can fade rapidly in strong sunlight, it is rarely used in art or fine textiles today. However, it is still used to dye jeans, where its fading and uneven coloring have become favorable characteristics.
  • Nigerian
  • 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.
  • 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

Additional Images Click an image to view a larger version

Provenance History
  • Owner Name: Mace Neufeld and Helen Katz Neufeld, Class of 1953
    Role: Donor
    Place: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US
    Ownership End Date: 12/20/1996


Bibliography List
The following Bibliography exist for this object:
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): AHDRC.eu. Record No.: 0176042.

Comparanda List
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): AHDRC.eu. Record No.: 0106685.
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): AHDRC.eu. Record No.: 0132093.
  • Fausto Polo, "Ibeji Archive." (Accessed July 23, 2020): http://ibejiarchive.com/. Record No.: 59V06.
  • Gert Stoll and Mareidi Stoll. Ibeji: Zwillingsfiguren der Yoruba (Munich, Germany: Authors, January 1, 1980), 300. Figure Number: 195

Related Bibliography List
The following Related Bibliography exist for this object:
  • "Ere Ibeji Figures (Yoruba peoples) – Smarthistory." (Accessed April 13, 2020): https://smarthistory.org/ere-figures-yoruba-peoples/.
  • Gert Stoll and Mareidi Stoll. Ibeji: Zwillingsfiguren der Yoruba (Munich, Germany: Authors, January 1, 1980), 288-289.
  • "The Fakeye Dynasty: the Art of the Master Craftsmen." Art in Africa (Accessed July 31, 2020): Artwa.Africa, https://artwa.africa/fakeye-dynasty-art-master-craftsmen/. https://artwa.africa/fakeye-dynasty-art-master-craftsmen/.
  • 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/145795 |title=Ere Ibeji (Twin Figure) |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=5/16/2022 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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