Handsome Ibeji figure from Nigeria. Rising from a rounded integral base, the male stands on short legs, hand resting on the stomach, anatomy exposed with shell (cowries were used as currency) around both arms. Facial features include a flat wide nose, slit mouth and eyes, linear scarifications on cheeks, and vertical multi-layered coiffure. Nice well-worn surface, deep brown patina.
The Yoruba people have an unusually high birth rate of twins. If one or both of them die, Ibejis are carved in order to keep their spirits alive for their families. Ibejis are kept standing on a special altar in a mother's sleeping room, and they are regularly washed, fed and rubbed with camwood powder ("osun"). If family members fail to follow ritual rules, disaster, disease or infertility may ensure. The twins have the power to protect those who honour them, but they can also punish those who neglect them.
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