Vintage Carved Ibeji with Necklace, Africa, Nigeria Yoruba (1964BHA)


H: 9.625″  W: 3″  D: 3″

This vintage Ibeji carved image portrays a simple yet strong elegance with his characteristic large conical head, long curved neck, and elaborately striated hairstyle. His extremely large round bulging eyes under heavy lids, flaring nose, full lips, and large flat ears reflect the Yoruba idealized form of beauty and exemplify being a correct and righteous example of tribal values. His prominent genitalia and buttocks and his sturdy vertical stance on wide feet, thick legs, and strong rounded shoulders and arms symbolize both his strength and fertility. Scarification patterns appear on his cheeks and forehead, and he wears a necklace with traditional Yoruba blue and multi colored beadwork.


Having one of the world’s highest rates of twin births but a high mortality rate, the Yoruba in West-Africa, especially Nigeria, have developed a “twin cult” revering deceased twin(s) as potent spirits, calling them ere Ibeji and honoring them with carved images to access their spirits and souls after death. The Ere Ibeji were identical carvings signifying the “unity in duality” that symbolized the twins. They reflect three significant Yoruba traditions: the importance of twins, a strong belief in the afterlife, and their idealized form of beauty and being a righteous example. They were small for ease of handling and generally made of rubber tree wood because of its fine grain, its density, the mystical power associated with it, and, when rubbed with oil, it resulted in its fine patina. Mothers of the deceased commissioned village carvers, often trained priests, to hand craft spiritual representations of the twin who died which served as vessels or resting places to contain the deceased twin’s spirit. Never portrayed as children, they were depicted as the ideal of Yoruba beauty in the prime of life. Carved features emphasized a conical head where one’s spirit, intelligence, and the seat of divine power lie, with an elaborate hairstyle, round eyes and facial features, and a balanced body, each feature symbolizing the moral virtue and inner goodness that should be cultivated by all children. The figures were generally placed in a home altar in the living quarters dedicated to Eshu, (Elegba) a benevolent protective spirit who is a messenger between heaven and earth. Mothers ritually feed, wash, and clothe them daily and offer prayers, sacrifices and spiritual care. In the past five decades demand for Tribal-Art hand carved commissioned Ibeji’s has diminished, and since the 1970’s preferences have switched to purchasing manufactured, imported dolls, and photographs instead of wood figures.


Africartmarket Today, Yoruba Ere-Ibeji, 2022.

Dr. Peri Klemm, Ere Ibeji Figures (Yoruba peoples), Khan Academy.

Additional information

Weight 3 lbs
Dimensions 12 × 9 × 6 in

Vintage (1920-1980)



Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 9.625” W: 3” D: 3”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 24.45cm W: 7.62cm D: 7.62cm




Excellent, fine patina demonstrating age and use

Reference Number


Shipping Box Size