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Lot 102: African Wooden Ibeji Twin Female Figure - Red Pigment
27 October 2016
Louisville, CO, USALive Auction
West Africa, Yoruba, ca. early 20th century CE. A female "ere ibeji" figure standing with both arms and rather large hands with long, elegant fingers at her sides, carved with an integral base and beautifully adorned with a strand of multicolored beads around her right ankle. She presents with rounded shoulders, a characteristically elongated head upon a long neck, her visage delineated with a closed mouth, a wide nose, large bulging eyes (one still showing a metal pupil), cup-shaped ears pierced to suspend ornaments, scarification marks upon his cheeks, her head crowned with a tall, meticulously incised coiffure. 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 11.5" H (8.9 cm x 29.2 cm)
Provenance: Ex - Adeon Gallery, Nick Poolos collection, Chicago, IL acquired before 1970
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Condition Report: One metal pupil missing but otherwise intact with expected surface wear commensurate with age. Nice patina and pigment remains.