Ere Ibeji (Twin Figure)

Egba - Abeokuta

By: Adenike Cosgrove Tagged:


Amongst the Yoruba, twins are regarded as extraordinary beings protected by the god, Sango. It is believed that twins are spiritually one inseparable being and as such, should a twin die, a statuette (ere ibeji) is made to be used as a container for the soul of the deceased twin.

The created ere ibeji must be cared for, fed, bathed and spoken to as if the child was still alive; this is to maintain the spiritual link between the physical, living child and the deceased twin. Ere ibeji figures are also expected to ward off evil from the household and to instead bring good fortune to the home. It is believed that mothers and family members that fail to respect and care for the ere ibeji provoke curses from the gods. (Chemeche, 2006)

Distinguishing Features

Common features among all ere ibeji:

    • Made of wood
    • Height = approximately 10 inches

Regional variations (Egba sub-group / Abeokuta city):3

    • Eyes are lidded at the top
    • Mouth bows in an upward smile
    • Large hands joining body at hip, carved in great detail - including fingernails
    • Long thin fingers joined to the sides of legs are characteristic of twins carved in Aiyetoro vicinity (northwest of Abeokuta)
    • Elbows normally bent
    • Feet and head are also oversized

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