Yoruba Twin Female Figures by the 'Master of the Enigmatic Smile', Nigeria
height of larger 12 1/2in (31.8cm)
Wood, leather, fiber, glass beads, pigment
Sotheby's, New York, November 9, 1993, lot 95
Private Collection, Michigan
Yoruba women have a very high rate of multiple births and twins are considered ritually powerful. When a twin dies an artist carves an image dedicated to ibeji, the deity of twins, to serve as an earthly abode for the deceased spirit. When both twins die, a pair of ibeji images is carved.