Vintage Yoruba Ere Ibeji with Thick Sandals, Nigeria (1967LAE) $485


H: 9.5″  W: 3.25″  D: 3″ | FREE SHIPPING!

This Nigerian tribal carving displays the distinctive Yoruba artistic and cultural conventions of Ere Ibeji images.  It is symmetrical and restrained with an oversized and elongated conical-shaped head about a third of the figure’s body. He has characteristic round bulging eyes with thick eyelids, triangular incised lashes, flared nostrils, prominent ears, full smiling lips and scarification on each cheek. His coiffure is detailed with parallel vertical plaits on both sides. The necklace with large triangular pendants covers his chest and back, and his covered genitals and triangular shaped buttocks are signs of his fertility. His power is reinforced by short, massive legs, unusually wide arms and strong shoulders, and his remarkably high thick sandals make him appear taller and add to the uniqueness of this impressive vintage piece.



Yoruba Ibeji carvings are idealized tribal-art conforming to Yoruba cultural conventions and do not closely reflect human likenesses. Symmetrical and restrained with oversized, elongated heads where one’s spirit, intelligence and the seat of divine power lie, they have detailed linear coiffures that can be a third or more of the figure’s body size. Having one of the world’s highest rates of twin births but a high mortality rate, the Yoruba have developed a twin cult revering deceased twin(s) as potent spirits, call them ere Ibeji and honor them with carved images to house their spirits and souls. They reflect 3 significant traditions: the importance of twins, and strong belief in the afterlife and their idealized form of beauty being an upright faultless example. They are an example of ideal Yoruba beauty in the prime of life, which is neither a child nor an old person. Each carving symbolizes moral virtue and inner goodness to be followed by all. Small for ease of handling and usually made of dense rubber tree wood with a fine grain and mystical power, when rubbed with oil the result is a fine patina. Mothers commissioned carvers, often trained priests, to craft spiritual representations of the twin(s) to serve as resting places to contain their spirits. Sadly, in past decades demand for carved Ibejis has diminished, and since the 1970’s preferences have switched to purchasing imported dolls or photographs.


Africartmarket Today, Yoruba Ere-Ibeji, 2022.

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

Additional information

Dimensions 12 × 9 × 6 in

Vintage (1920-1980)



Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 9.5” W: 3.25” D: 3”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 24.15cm W: 8.25cm D: 7.62cm




Very good, patina and wear consistent with age and use

Item Number


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