Representations of Children

The Yoruba people have one of the highest rates of twin births in the world - out of every 1000 births, 45 are twins. Twins are considered very special, and they come into this world with the highest blessing of the ancestors.

Among the Yoruba, if a young twin dies, a special wooden statue is carved called an Ire Ibeji. This figure is said to house the spirit of the deceased twin. The Ire Ibeji is ritually washed, fed, clothed, and carried in a cloth wrapper on the mother's back. Real babies are also carried on their mother's back in Yorubaland and in other parts of Africa, as you see in the photo above.

Let's look at this Ire Ibeji from Rochester more closely.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University,
Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester and Dallas Museum of Art
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