By Carla Herling
Drake University (formerly University of Iowa)

Nigeria; Yoruba peoples

Ere ibeji (twin figures)

Wood, beads, pigment

H. 36 cm (14 3/16")

Fowler Museum at UCLA, Gift in Memory of Barbara Jean Jacoby, X86-1085 a-d

When the figure has been carved the artist presents it to the hopeful woman who places it on her back, tucked in her wrapper.  She returns home, dancing all the way to the songs sung in honor of ibeji by the women of her community.  The figure is placed on a small shrine in the mother's sleeping room, its face is washed, and it is dressed in rich garments and beads. When the surviving twin is given gifts the same gift must be given to the ere Ibeji.  Those who offer gifts to Ibeji are in turn blessed with good fortune and prosperity.  This pair has been offered beautiful jackets embroidered with expensive beadwork.

Mother of twins at Igbo-ora, Oyo, uses a plastic doll to represent her twin son who died in 1970.

Photograph by Marilyn Houlberg, c.1970

EEPA 2005-002-05336

Marilyn Houlberg Collection

Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives

National Museum of African Art

Smithsonian Institution