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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Commemorative Twin Figure (Awon Ere Ibeji)

Commemorative Twin Figure (Awon Ere Ibeji)

Parents have ibeji figures carved when twin children die and then care for them by rubbing the heads with indigo dye, adding beads, and keeping the figures on the family shrine. Ere ibeji are depicted in the fullness of adult physique, with erect bodies, hands on hips, poised and balanced. Twins can bring good fortune, healing, wealth, and prosperity to families who treat them properly. Oriki salutations, the most common type of Yoruba poetry, commend the coming of twins and their preference for being born to poor parents rather than rich ones.

Wood, pigment, beads, and nails
9 5/8 x 3 1/8 x 3 3/8 in. (24.5 x 8 x 8.5 cm)
Gift of Katherine White and the Boeing Company
Now on view at the Seattle Art Museum


Exhibition HistoryLos Angeles, California, Frederick S. Wight Art Gallery, University of California, African Art in Motion: Icon and Act, Jan. 20 - Mar. 17, 1974 (Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, May 5 - Sept. 22, 1974). Text by Robert Farris Thompson. No cat. no., p. 67, reproduced fig. A-2 (as "ibeji").

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Art from Africa: Long Steps Never Broke a Back, Feb. 7 - May 19, 2002 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Oct. 2, 2004 - Jan. 2, 2005; Hartford, Connecticut, Wadsworth Atheneum, Feb. 12 - June 19, 2005; Cincinnati, Ohio, Cincinnati Art Museum, Oct. 8, 2005 - Jan. 1, 2006; Nashville, Tennessee, Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Jan. 27 - Apr. 30, 2006 [as African Art, African Voices: Long Steps Never Broke a Back]). Text by Pamela McClusky. No cat. no., pp. 26, 28-29, reproduced pl. 6.

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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