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Double vision.

According to John Picton, in his essay "Seeing Double," "Yoruba people were said to have a rate of twin births some four times that of anywhere else, and the images that replaced twins that died in infancy are among the best-known and most-loved of African sculptural forms...." As one of the contributors to the book Ibeji. The Cult of Yoruba Twins, Picton, who has worked for the Nigerian Government Department of Antiquities, not only sets up a basis for study of the artwork, but he also provides a detailed explanation for showcasing some 600 examples of beautifully hand-carved works.

In terms of the history of figurative sculpture in Africa, Yoruba artisans have been considered "the most prolific carvers of a wide variety of objects for domestic and ritual use." Therefore, understanding the origins and the aesthetics of the twin figure, ere ibeji, are offered from several fronts in this engaging catalogue. Besides the historical background, Yoruba carver Lamidi O. Fakeye describes the tradition and ritual associated with the carving and honoring of ere ibeji.

As the reader leafs through the pages, he is treated to images of hundreds of ere ibeji, from various regions of Yorubaland aid representing many artistic styles. A quick glance at some of the figures, ironically, and several of the figures seem to resemble one another, with their pointed headdresses and bug-eyed countenances. A closer examination, however, is invited.

Editor George Chemeche dedicated the book to the Yoruba carvers who have produced such fine works, whose beauty and spiritual meaning are worth discovering.

Ibeji: The Cult of Yoruba Twins

Edited by George Chemeche Text by John Pemberton III and John Picton 5 Continents Editions October 2003 $65.00, ISBN 8-874-39060-2
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Title Annotation:Eye: a showcase for the visual arts; Ibeji: The Cult of Yoruba Twins
Author:Reynolds, Clarence V.
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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