The Yoruba people of Nigeria have traditionally regarded the birth of twins as a supernatural phenomenon. Twins are considered semi-divine and are born possessing special powers. If a twins dies, the parents consult a diviner to determine if an Ibeji memorial figure should be carved as a substitute and in honor of the deceased child. Today, photographs with duel-image photo shopping can replace carvings.
Twin effigies were treated and cared for as if they were living children; they are fed, washed, taken on family outings. This is to appease the spirit of the deceased twin so that he or she will rest and also bring good fortune to the family. Though carved for a specific deceased child, each Ibeji are designed as the adult version rather than the child to encourage the young soul to return to earth, be reborn and have another chance to grow into adulthood.
Donated by Mr. Robert Helmholz