Twin Doll

Ibeji; Nigeria
Early 20th Century

Nigeria births the largest known population of twins. Starting in the 19h century, due to the high infant mortality rate; dolls called Ibeji were commissioned. The soul of the dead twin would enter this wooden carved doll and it was to be treated as if it WAS the twin that passed on. This example shows exactly how Ibeji’s were treated. The heavily worn features are from the daily washings; as if you were washing a real child. The caked on reddish surface was the ‘clothing’ given to the Ibeji; known as cam-wood. The mouth is worn down; from offerings of food. The beads are gifts that would be presented to the Ibeji on occasions. This example is the epitome of the Ibeji among the Yoruba of Nigeria.

This figure stands 11.25 inches tall.

SOLD / IN 2-6-10