Ere Ibeji Twin figure


Shaki Style
Oyo Area

Carved wood, pigments, beads, metal
Early 20th century
Height : 11 ½ in. (29 cm)

Ex collection Tristan Tzara (1896-1963), Paris
Ex Christie’s Amsterdam, December 2001, lot 391
Ex private collection, Paris

Price : sold

Western Africa
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The statuettes linked to twin worship, are called ere ibeji in the Yoruba language: ere signifying a sacred image, ibi born and eji a double. Symbols of prestige, wealth and fecundity, ere ibeji figures also guaranteed the perpetuation of future generations. These effigies of ancestors were an integral part of everyday activities, punctuating the family life of the Yoruba. Subject to very codified rituals, ere ibeji figures were pampered, with their care including feeding, washing and oiling.
They were considered to be living beings, a reincarnation of ancestor-twins. Representations always showed them at the peak of their strength and power in adulthood.
This Ibeji figure is distinguished by the rigor of construction of the statue, the sensuality of its curves and the fineness of its details. The erosion of the facial features is quite affecting, linked as it is to the statue being ritually handled and stroked generation after generation.

This Ibeji figure was part of the celebrated collection of Surrealist poet Tristan Tzara (1896-1963).