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ID number:  BIRRC-D0026
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Danford Collection of West African Art and Artefacts
Artist / Maker:  Unknown
Title / Object name:  Twin figurine: 'ere ibeji'
Object type:  Sculpture
Place made:  Oyo, W. Nigeria
Culture:  Yoruba
Materials:  Wood, beads and shells
Measurements:  31 cm
BIRRC-D0026.jpg

Male figurine with beads around neck and waist and cowrie shells hanging from right wrist. The Yoruba boast the highest international rate of twin births in the world with around 45 in 1000 births being twins. As a result of this high incidence a cult of 'ere ibeji' developed from around the beginning of the 19th century. 'Ere ibeji' is the name given to carved representations of deceased twins. If one or both of the twins dies, the parents will consult a Babalowo (diviner) in choosing the artist to undertake the work. The completed carving will be an adult representation of the dead infant and will be treated by the family as real in that they wash, feed and care for it as though it were a child. Principally the mother will be responsible for the care of the 'ere ibeji' but the whole family will tend to it as good care is thought to bring good luck and fortune to the family. This figurine was collected in 1956, lent to the University by J. Danford in 1964 and purchased in 1975.

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