Ere Ibeji twin figure with a coat of cowrie shells
Carved wood, fabric, cowrie shells, beads, metal
Early 20th century
Height: 12 in. (30.5 cm)
Ex collection Michel Huguenin
Ex collection Bernard Fraissine
Ex collection Pierre Terrier
Ex collection Xavier Richer
Published: “Divine Twins”, H. Joubert, X. Richer, Somogy, 2016, p. 83
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 life, 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.
The ere ibeji presented here is distinguished by its ancient cloak ornamented with cowry shells, both a symbol and promise of wealth. The high-quality artistry of its carving, in particular the refined rendering of the coiffure is also noteworthy.