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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Yoruba Ibeji Dolls : Yoruba Wooden Ibeji Doll with Cowrie Shell Cloak
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Yoruba Wooden Ibeji Doll with Cowrie Shell Cloak - PF.4698
Origin: Southwestern Nigeria
Circa: 19 th Century AD to 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 10.25" (26.0cm) high x 13" (33.0cm) wide
Collection: African
Medium: Wood and Shells

Location: Great Britain
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For the Yoruba people, twins have a special power and are treated with great respect. If a twin dies, the mother consults a diviner. He determines which sculptor should carve the Ibeji to serve as a substitute for the child. This consultation acts as the spiritual link between the work of art and the spirit of the deceased. Once the figure is carved, the artist activates it by soaking it in a special solution and rubbing it with specific oils. The mother treats the Ibeji as if it were alive; feeding, dressing, and bathing the image. Its face is washed with soap or sugarcane fiber then rubbed with a cloth, which can result in wearing away the features. This delightful Ibeji is beautifully carved and shows the female “child” in the full flower of health and happiness. The necklace, beaded bracelets and especially the wonderful cowry cloak, are signs of wealth and status. For this delightful statuette the diviner must have been inspired in choosing such a talented sculptor. - (PF.4698)


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