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20th C. African Wood Ibeji Male Twin Figure

West Africa, Nigeria, Yoruba peoples, ca. early 20th century CE. A twin Ere Ibeji figure standing upon an integral round base, hand carved to represent a deceased twin, adorned with extensive scarification marks upon the cheeks, forehead, and torso, an elaborate upswept incised coiffure with a plaited cross-like form at the back, the hair further enhanced with brilliant violet-blue indigo pigment. The visage presents large almond-shaped eyes detailed with metal pupils and incised lashes, a naturalistic broad nose, a closed wide mouth, and an overall solemn countenance. According to the Yoruba, twin effigies like the one featured here are believed to influence the daily lives of family members. As such, they are traditionally honored with prayers and libations. A strong example with a wonderful patina. Size: 10.875" H (27.6 cm)

The Yoruba are known for their carved sculptures of deceased male and female twin figures, known as Ibeji. The Yoruba have one of the highest number of twin births in the world, four times higher than in Europe, for example. Ibeji are known to the Yoruba as two people who share one soul. If one of the human twins dies, whether as a child or an adult, the surviving human twin is considered to have little hope of living with only half a soul. Further, the deceased's soul must have a place to reside.

Condition: Surface wear with a few age cracks as shown. Very nice patina.

Provenance: Ex-Adeon Gallery, Chicago, IL, acquired prior to 1970.

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