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Ibedji figure representing a dead male twin, Yoruba people, Nigeria, 1871-1910

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Among the Yoruba people of Nigeria, twins are believed to bless their parents with good fortune. The Yoruba people have one of the highest rates of twin births in the world and the death of a twin is considered a great misfortune. If a twin dies, the mother commissions a memorial figure (two if both twins die), and the soul of the deceased twin is believed to be transferred to it. The mother dresses the statue in cloth and jewellery and keeps it near her bed. She also offers the figure food and prayers weekly, and performs more elaborate rituals on the occasion of birthdays and annual festivals. This statue represents a male twin and forms a pair with A655927.

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Glossary: statue

A sculpture in the round representing human or animal figures or small figure groups; a statuette is a smaller sculpture.