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African Art
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Twin Female Figure (Ère Ìbejì)

early 20th century

Wood, beads, string, and metal

10 1/2 × 5 × 4 in. (26.67 × 12.7 × 10.16 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Osborn for the Linton Collection of African Art
1960.33.8
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.
Geography: 
Ado Odo, Guinea Coast, Awori, Nigeria
Culture: 
Yorùbá
Period: 
20th century
Classification: 
Sculpture
Provenance: 

Dr. Ralph Linton, Sterling Professor of Anthropology at Yale, unknown date–1953
Mr. and Mrs. James M. Osborn donated to Yale University Art Gallery for the Linton Collection of African Art in 1960

Bibliography: 

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.

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 such records is ongoing.