all photographs by the author

In 1964, local observers from all walks of life were shown a selection of memorial images for departed twins (ere ibeji), representing a varied range of individual “hands,” or styles, throughout Yorubaland. The most highly praised and widely admired of all the images offered for their critical appraisal was the female twin figure featured here (Figs. 1a-b).

This figure was collected by K.C. Murray, then Surveyor of Antiquities, at the Egbado town of Ajilete, southwestern Yorubaland, in 1951. It was among other items rescued after the Atinga “witch-finding” cult had swept through the Ilaro area in 1950–51 (see Morton-Williams 1956: 315–34). Specific cults were targeted, and shrines for twins were attacked with “particular zeal” (Morton-Williams 1956: 325), reflecting the close association of twin births with witches in this area. Murray (n.d.) reckoned that the cult visited at least...

You do not currently have access to this content.