ibeji figure (figure (ritual & belief: cult of the dead))

Carved wooden Ibeji figure in the form of a standing adult female with bead ornaments and arms held neutrally by its sides.

This female twin figure appears to be one of a pair with its male counterpart above (1.7.65/1). When both of a mother’s twin children died and she failed to honour them appropriately it was believed that she might become infertile or even die. Such were the terrifying powers of twins according to indigenous Yoruba belief. One way of honouring deceased twins was to have figures of them made which would be placed on a household shrine. The mother of the deceased children would then feed, wash and cloth the figures as she would living children, in order for them not to feel slighted. Like other ibeji figures this one is represented as an adult, indicated by the well-developed breasts, and it stands with dignified pose, because it is intended to honour a deceased twin child that was believed to be a manifestation of divinity.

Collection Information

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