The Museum of African Art presents the topic of twins in African art and culture, showcasing sculptures of twins from the art collection of the Pavlich family.
An above average number of twins is born on the African continent, compared to other parts of the world. The Yoruba people, who live in southwest Nigeria, have the highest rate of multiple births in the world. The Yoruba people, as well as other African cultures, attribute supernatural origins and spiritual power to twins. According to their beliefs, every person has a double in the heavens. Twins are children who are born along with their heavenly counterpart. The name for twins in yoruba is ibeji, meaning “born two times”, which also the name of the divinity that protects them. Twin children are regarded as divine blessings which bring happiness to their family if they are cared for and treated with respect. The cult dedicated to twins is based on these beliefs.
Anthropomorphic wooden sculptures called ere ibeji, were made in the case of death of twin children, which was a frequent occurrence in traditional communities, before the arrival of modern medicine. These figures served as substitutes for the child, as a consolation, a “vessel” in which the child’s soul dwelled. Treating the sculpture as they would a real child, the family expressed their love and tenderness for the child gone too soon. The sculpture “participated” in numerous rituals and ceremonies dedicated to twins and the Ibeji deity.
The diversity, as well as the artistic and emotional value of twin sculptures, sparked an interest of numerous collectors of African art from around the world. Today, these objects are featured in many museum and gallery collections around the world.
29/12/15 - 30/06/16