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Creator Nationality: African
Creator Name-CRT: Yoruba, Nigeria
Title: Ere Ibeji Dolls
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1900
Creation End Date: 1982
Creation Date: 20th century
Creation Place: Nigeria, Africa
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Wood, metal (aluminum), plastic, dye
Dimensions: Height: a) 11 1/4", b) 11 1/2"
Description: Pair of wooden figures, one female (a), one male (b).
a) Standing wooden female figure with rounded, crested coiffure with bands of incising, center right and blue dye; bulging brow, long, straight bands of incising center ridge and blue; long, straight nose with very broad nostrils pointed downward, almost touching protuberant double lips; extremely large, protruding elliptical eyes; upper half incised lashes, lower half pupils with nail holes and short lower lashes; Abaja variation of Oyo scarification marks on cheeks; large, protruding, pierced rectangular ears set back on head, tubular neck with slight forward bend; very broad, sloping shoulders; large, pendulous, downward hanging breasts with carved nipples set low on chest; carved navel, discreet genitalia; wide hips, short thick legs with large feet, toes and heels, on round base; thick arms with double armlets carved on wrists, hands resting on hips; carved shell disc bead waistband; black tubular plastic beads with red shape armlets on both wrists; camwood coating.
b) Standing wooden male figure, with rounded, crested coiffure with bands of incising, center right and blue dye; bulging brow, long, straight bands of incising center ridge and blue; long, straight nose with very broad nostrils pointed downward, almost touching protuberant double lips; extremely large, protruding elliptical eyes; upper half incised lashes, lower half pupils with nail holes and short lower lashes; Abaja variation of Oyo scarification marks on cheeks; large, protruding, pierced rectangular ears set back on head, tubular neck with slight forward bend; very broad, sloping shoulders; flat V-shape pectorals; long torso with large, flat carved navel; triangle incising between navel and finely carved penis; wide hips, short thick legs with large feet, toes and heels, on round base; thick arms with large aluminum armlets on each wrist; round pink and blue plastic bead armlet on left wrist.
AMICA Contributor: Brooklyn Children's Museum
Owner Location: Brooklyn, New York, USA
ID Number: 82.7.54ab
Credit Line: Gift of the Honorable John. A. McKesson, 1982
Context: Pair of ere ibeji ("ere" = sacred figure, "ibeji" = twin), standing wooden female and male figures from the Oshogbo area of Yorubaland. The Yoruba people have the highest twin birthrate in the world. They consider twins to be propitious - twins are thought to bring spiritual and supernatural powers to assist in protecting family, happiness, health, and prosperity. They can also bring disaster and bad luck if they are not treated with respect, so live twins are spoiled, receiving the best food, clothing, and adornment.
Upon the death of one or both twins, a figure or a pair of figures is carved to house the soul of the deceased. The figure or pair is kept in special household locations and is fed, clothed, and honored to prevent bad luck.
There are distinct ibjei carving styles throughout Yorubaland. The figures are always carved as grown adults. Most are coated with red camwood powder and the hair is covered with indigo or a blue commercial dye. The color of their adornment often indicates the mother's devotion to a particular god (Orisha). For example, a necklace of red and white beads denotes a devotess of Shango; blue beads and lead bracelets denote Oshun; black waist beads protect the deceased twin from the spirits of children born to die.
Because the old ibeji figures are valuable, the Yoruba now carve "substantive ibejis" and transfer the soul of the old ibeji to a new figure so the old one can be sold.
AMICA ID: BCM_.82.7.54ab
AMICA Library Year: 2003
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