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Twin Figures (ère ìbejì)

Location

NIGERIA, probably IGBOMINA REGION

Culture

Yoruba

Title

Twin Figures (ère ìbejì)

Date

19th-20th c.

Materials

Wood, pigments, glass beads

Dimensions

Approx. 27.6 x 8.3 x 7.4 cm (each)

Credits

Gift of Gerald Benjamin, inv. 2008.187.1-2

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

Placed under the protection of the god Shango, twins are divine beings who can bring prosperity to their parents, but also misfortune if they are badly treated. When one of the twins dies, a commemorative sculpture helps remain in contact with the spirit of the departed child. A pair of statuettes indicates the death of both twins. Their frontal and symmetrical pose is known as dídúró (literally, standing and waiting), entreating the twins to stay with their family. Such statuettes are set up on an altar in the family home. As a sign of her devotion, the mother would bathe and feed them daily, as if the children were still alive. Since the 1970s, plastic dolls and photographs have replaced the wooden effigies.

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