Title

Yoruba Ere Ibeji Sculptures: Changing Life Trajectories Through Art

Abstract

The Yoruba people in Western Africa have the highest twinning rate in the world. This paper examines one element of the Yoruba twinning phenomenon, commissioned sculptures called ere ibeji, figures that are carved to house the soul of a deceased twin. In focusing on one particular set of ere ibeji sculptures in the Brooklyn Museum, this paper explores the specific processes and rituals that families commissioning ere ibeji figures must follow in order to bestow the appropriate honor upon their deceased love one and to ensure that the figure is properly empowered. If all is done properly, an ere ibeji sculpture will protect a surviving twin from being drawn into the parallel spiritual world by his or her deceased sibling and allow the family to worship and contribute offerings to the deities, thereby protecting the family from foul spirits and bringing good fortune.

Ere ibeji figures are catalysts because they enable surviving family members to take control of their lives. Most importantly they allow families to change the trajectory of seemingly inevitable consequence of losing a remaining twin (or other multiple), thereby improving their life situation. By providing a positive action through which a family may care for its members and react to the suddenness of death, ere ibeji figures essentially provide a focal point for their emotions and potentially facilitate the progression through the five stages of grief more rapidly. The sculpture elicits a feeling of at least some empowerment in the face of the tragedy of the death of a family member. So rather than simply feeling anger, sadness and hopelessness, family members can use art to take control of an emotional and tragic situation.

Start Date

15-3-2013 1:30 PM

End Date

15-3-2013 2:45 PM

This document is currently not available here.

Share

Import Event to Google Calendar

COinS
 
Mar 15th, 1:30 PM Mar 15th, 2:45 PM

Yoruba Ere Ibeji Sculptures: Changing Life Trajectories Through Art

Olscamp 101

The Yoruba people in Western Africa have the highest twinning rate in the world. This paper examines one element of the Yoruba twinning phenomenon, commissioned sculptures called ere ibeji, figures that are carved to house the soul of a deceased twin. In focusing on one particular set of ere ibeji sculptures in the Brooklyn Museum, this paper explores the specific processes and rituals that families commissioning ere ibeji figures must follow in order to bestow the appropriate honor upon their deceased love one and to ensure that the figure is properly empowered. If all is done properly, an ere ibeji sculpture will protect a surviving twin from being drawn into the parallel spiritual world by his or her deceased sibling and allow the family to worship and contribute offerings to the deities, thereby protecting the family from foul spirits and bringing good fortune.

Ere ibeji figures are catalysts because they enable surviving family members to take control of their lives. Most importantly they allow families to change the trajectory of seemingly inevitable consequence of losing a remaining twin (or other multiple), thereby improving their life situation. By providing a positive action through which a family may care for its members and react to the suddenness of death, ere ibeji figures essentially provide a focal point for their emotions and potentially facilitate the progression through the five stages of grief more rapidly. The sculpture elicits a feeling of at least some empowerment in the face of the tragedy of the death of a family member. So rather than simply feeling anger, sadness and hopelessness, family members can use art to take control of an emotional and tragic situation.