Wood, with coloring
10 3/4 x 3 1/2. x 3 in. (27.3 x 8.89 x. 7.62 cm)
Bequest of David P. Harris ('46), 2020
Purchased by David P. Harris ('46) from Von Barghahn Gallery, in Washington D.C. on August 22, 1974.
The figure retains much of its original coloring both on the blue headdress and the reddish clay that once covered the body and base of the figure. One of the eyes still has the original nail representing the eyeball.
Brad Hostetler, with Ani Parnagian, "From Private to Public: The Collection of David P. Harris," in Ethiopian Objects in the Blick-Harris Study Collection: Art, Context, and the Persistence of Form, eds. Brad Hostetler, and Lynn Jones, Peregrinations: Journal of Medieval Art & Architecture 8, no. 1 (Spring 2022): 5–25. https://digital.kenyon.edu/perejournal/vol8/iss1/1/
The Yoruba people have a very high number of twin births, some of the highest in the world. Twins are thought to be protected by Sango, the deity of Thunder. Twins are therefore powerful spirits in life, and are honored with memorial figures when they die. Ibeji figures allow those still living to connect with the deceased twins. Their mother provides ritual care and bathes, dresses, adorns, and feeds the figures. They are often crown with elaborate hairdo, and this figure is no exception with the elaborate high blue headdress it wears.
Sources: Ibeji Twin Figure. “Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1978.412.679”. Accessed August 20, 2021