Ire Ibejis

Despite the fact that Ire Ibejis serve as a receptacle or dwelling place for the spirit of a dead child, these carvings don't look anything like children. The figures are carved to represent an ideal physical type represented by the Yoruba people. From the Ire Ibeji featured here we can see the Yoruba idea of beauty is one that shows the figure in the prime of life - neither a child nor an old person. The Ire Ibeji style emphasizes:

  • a cone-shaped head,

  • an elaborate hairstyle,

  • a roundness of the eyes and facial features,

  • a balanced composition between the body parts.
    (If we could see the figure under the beaded cloak!)
The many Ire Ibejis carved in this style tell us not only about the importance of twins and the strong belief in the afterlife among the Yoruba, but also something about what they consider to be beautiful.

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