Description - Yoruba figures

Yoruba figures

Era early twentieth century
Country Nigeria
provenance former Jan Lundberg collection - Sweden
Ethnic group Yoruba
Height 27 cm

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Data sheet

early twentieth century
former Jan Lundberg collection - Sweden
Ethnic group

Description - Yoruba figures

Yoruba figures

Who is

Description - Yoruba figures

Yoruba, Nigeria and Benin, have a high twin birth, almost twice more as the average. These twins called "ibeji" were, before the 18th century, often perceived as monsters, and victims of infanticides. However, thereafter, to this day, "ibeji" were considered as blessings. They took the status of quasi deities and were venerated as such. Often called "Orishas", they bring the chance to the family in which they are born. The death of one or of the twins is still perceived today as a great calamity in the family, who must immediately perform several rites to appease the spirit of the deceased twin. The first born is named "Taiwo", which means "the one who has the first experience of the world ". The second is named "Kehinde", "The one who arrives after the other".

Although born first, "Taiwo" is considered the youngest. He would be the envoy of "Kehinde", he is considered as the adventurer who, by his first cry, signals to his elder that he can go out see the world. "Kehinde" is perceived as more cautious, smarter and thoughtful, while "Taiwo" would be more curious and adventurous, as well as nonchalant. The "ibeji" wooden statuettes, called "Ere Ibeji" represent the spirit of the dead twins. Their sculpture is conducted under the guidance of an "Ifa", sorcerer of divination, consulted by the parents of the twin to determine which sculptor should design it. The sculpture represents a child, symbolically figured under an adult. The completed statuette, a set of rituals is conducted in his honor. He is then taken to the family home where he is considered a member of the family, and placed on a dedicated altar. The family then hopes that the "Orisha", the soul of the twins, has split in two at the birth of the twins, and now resides in the sculpture dedicated to the deceased twin. Great care is taken in the sculpture, as if he was a living being. The child is washed, neat, oiled, fed, clothed and surrounded by songs and prayers. He is placed in a standing situation the day on the altar, and lie down at night. He is often dressed like his living twin. Clothes richly beaded are attributed to him, symbols of dignity and wealth. Their hairstyle is regularly coated with indigo blue, and their bodies are reddened by red wood pigments.

Women are responsible for wearing the sculptures. Some of them bring an erased patina, sign of repeated maintenance in the belt of the woman who carried it daily. Manifestations of filial love, these sculptures so diverse in their forms and moving in their meaning are a symbol of affection, luck and respect.

This pair of Ibejis come from the Oyo region, probably from the village of Erin. The scarifications on the face mark the membership of a family of noble rank. The set of two statuettes presents a patina of camwood powder called osun in vernacular language which testifies the seniority and the ritual use of these twins Ibejis. We find on the hairstyles the blue pigments of origin.