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Lot 101: African Wooden Ibeji Twin Female Figure - Metal Pupils
27 October 2016
Louisville, CO, USALive Auction
West Africa, Yoruba, ca. early 20th century CE. A female "ere ibeji" figure standing with both arms at his sides, carved with an integral base and beautifully adorned with beads - one strand of cylindrical dark blue beads around her neck and one strand of disc-shaped black beads around her waist. She presents with rounded shoulders, a characteristically elongated face delineated with a closed mouth, a full nose, large bulging eyes with metal pupils, cup-shaped ears, scarification marks upon her cheeks, her head crowned with a tall, multi-lobed coiffure finely incised with striated and cross-hatched patterns. A wonderful example with a rich dark brown patina and some red pigment remaining on the surface. The Yoruba have traditionally had a high rate of multiple births and have always valued twins as special. When one twin dies, a figure dedicated to Ibeji, the deity of twins, is carved to be the earthly abode of the spirit of that twin. The figure is then nurtured by the mother and/or the surviving twin. 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. Hence, a figure dedicated to Ibeji is carved to shelter the spirit of the deceased twin. A wonderful example representing this sacred tradition. Size: 3.5" W x 11" H (8.9 cm x 27.9 cm)
Provenance: Ex - Adeon Gallery, Nick Poolos collection, Chicago, IL acquired before 1970
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Condition Report: Intact with wonderful patina.