Twin Female Figure (Ère Ìbejì)

early 20th century

African Art

Not on view

The Yoruba have the highest incidence of twinning in the world. Because twins tend to have a low birth weight, they have a high infant mortality rate. In Yoruba belief deceased twins may try to lure their living twins to the world of the dead. To appease them, carved figured of the dead rendered in adult form were cared for like real children. They were washed, fed, and dressed with beads and taken out to be danced on public occasions. Treated with respect, they bring good fortune to their families: mistreated, they may cause poverty, illness, and even death.


Wood, beads, string, and metal


10 1/2 × 5 × 4 in. (26.67 × 12.7 × 10.16 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Osborn for the Linton Collection of African Art

Accession Number



20th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Possibly Professor William R. Bascom (1912–1981) [see note 1]. Dr. Ralph Linton (1893–1953), by 1953 [see note 2]; by descent to his wife, Adelin Hohlfield Linton (1899–1977); sold to Marie-Louise Montgomery Osborn (1905–1968) and James Marshall Osborn (1906–1976), 1954; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.,1960

Note 1: Professor Emeritus William R. Bascom, was a noted anthropologist and author, as well as the Director of the Lowie Museum of Anthropology of the University of California (Berkeley). His first field work in Nigeria was in 1938. This piece was featured in the 1956 exhibition African Tribal Sculpture. In the accompanying publication (Plass 1956) Plass states some pieces from the exhibition grouping (15-A) were collected by Professor W.R. Bascom.

Note 2: Ralph Linton was the Sterling Professor of Anthropology at Yale from 1946 until his death in 1953.
  • Ralph Linton, The Linton Collection of African Sculpture: An Exhibition, March 13 through April 18, 1954, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1954), no. 61, ill.
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

figures (representations), sculpture


twins women

Technical metadata and APIs


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