Unknown Yoruba, ‘A Complex, Outstanding Quality, and Very Old Pair of Ibeji Twins Request Price’, 1920-1930, Berz Gallery of African Art
Unknown Yoruba, ‘A Complex, Outstanding Quality, and Very Old Pair of Ibeji Twins Request Price’, 1920-1930, Berz Gallery of African Art
Unknown Yoruba, ‘A Complex, Outstanding Quality, and Very Old Pair of Ibeji Twins Request Price’, 1920-1930, Berz Gallery of African Art
Unknown Yoruba, ‘A Complex, Outstanding Quality, and Very Old Pair of Ibeji Twins Request Price’, 1920-1930, Berz Gallery of African Art
Unknown Yoruba, ‘A Complex, Outstanding Quality, and Very Old Pair of Ibeji Twins Request Price’, 1920-1930, Berz Gallery of African Art
Unknown Yoruba, ‘A Complex, Outstanding Quality, and Very Old Pair of Ibeji Twins Request Price’, 1920-1930, Berz Gallery of African Art
Unknown Yoruba, ‘A Complex, Outstanding Quality, and Very Old Pair of Ibeji Twins Request Price’, 1920-1930, Berz Gallery of African Art

These are among our favorite pairs of Ibejis ever; one has to divest themselves from rigid Ibeji review criteria to really embrace them. Once this is done, their age, detail, subtle power---all should come through to one's eyes. Price on request. From Olivier Larroque: “Paire d’Ibejis Yoruba représentant des jumelles. Les pieds finement ciselés, la poitrine ornée de scarifications ou de parures, la haute coiffure en forme de mitre, le visage fortement stylisé, sont autant de caractéristiques singulières désignant un style extrêmement rare dans le corpus. Remarquable exemplaire d’une grande qualité sculpturale. Importante patine d’usage rouge-noire témoignant d’un très long usage in-situ, avec de fortes traces d’usure notamment au visage.” One of our all-time favorite ibeji pairs ever. While we mention it frequently to clients that photos cannot depict the quality of objects, these are the poster child for pieces that do not show well in photos. While we reserve use of the word "ancient" to stone, clay and metal or tested wooden figures, in the world of Ibejis, this pair is ancient. The age of the figures is indisputable; there is so much depth and so many interesting features to these twins that they leave us wanting to never sell them. But we have to sell to eat. The faces and coiffures have essentially been "reshaped" due to years of repeated rubbing care, and washing by their owner. The patina is sensational; they have had oils and other liquids poured over them and have been handled lovingly for years. With lovely and old vintage beads adorning both of the figures, we would absolutely date this pair to the 19th century. About Ibeji Twins: For the Yoruba, a mother of twins is indeed doubly blessed. With the birth of her twins, comes the family’s ability to attain a better life through the aid of these special children who are considered close to the gods. As is often the case in Africa, and in life, good fortune can turn to disaster if it is not handled properly. The Yoruba believe that special ceremonies must be performed, praise songs sung and special foods be served to twins so that they can maintain their favor with the Gods and hence that of their family. The Yoruba people are widely known as having the highest naturally occurring rates of twinning in the world. Unfortunately, the mortality rate for twins is also high. If the birth of twins is cause for great celebration, the passing of a twin is cause for great mourning. If one or both of a pair of twins dies, the family will consult a diviner (babalowo) who may say that a small wooden figure must be carved to contain the spirit of the lost child. The figure resembles what the child might have looked like in the prime of life—had the full promise of its birth been realized. Cathartically, the grieving Yoruba mother traditionally cares for the carved ibeji figure as she would have cared for her real child—it is carried home tied in its mother’s wrapper as she sings and dances to praise it. When home, it is caressed, offered food, anointed with oils and spends the night on a mat in its mother’s bedroom, wrapped in a cloth to keep it warm. To see an ibeji figure with features that have been nearly rubbed away to a rich patina is to witness the constant caress of a loving mother whose love could not be diminished, even in death. The photograph on the prior page depicts a Yoruba mother holding two of her ibeji figures, and is © Deborah Stokes (taken from Pemberton III, Picton, Fakeye, Chemeche, “Ibeji: The Cult of Yoruba Twins”). Other references: Museum for African Art, “Doubly Blessed: The Ibeji Twins of Nigeria”; Polo, “Encyclopedia of the Ibeji”; Visona, “A History of Art In Africa”)

Vetted as authentic by a committee of tribal art experts and exhibited at Parcours des mondes, Paris, September 2016 by Galerie Olivier Larroque, Nimes, France

Ex. Galerie Olivier Larroque, Nimes, France, Ex. Collection Dr. Richard (Paris)

About Unknown Yoruba