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ASK THE EXPERT - DEC 2016

ASK THE EXPERT - DEC 2016

I bought recently from an elderly German collector of Nigerian art, who worked for many years in Nigeria in the 1970, a statuette 28 cm high. I would like to know from Fausto Polo if it is an Ibeji.

In my last book, the Encyclopedia of the Ibeji, the chapter “Ibeji” starts with a sentence which is already a partial answer to your question. “The Ibeji is not the portrait of a child, but the statue of an adult”. Your statuette represents an adult female, carved with all the characteristics of a common Ibeji, but with the addition of a kid on the back. This is the representation of a mother, or a female figure clearly compatible with an adult Ibeji. This is a type exceptionally rare. In fact, it is the second Ibeji, “mother with child” I have seen in all my life of Ibeji scholar. This Ibeji come from the a workshop of Oshogbo, like the other one I saw a few years ago. Clearly it is an Ibeji that has a high commercial value due to its rarity. But you should be careful. As I said several times, my answer on this site is not an expertise, because it is based on the analysis of a few photos and not on the direct examination of the statuette. For this reason, I suggest to submit your Ibeji to an expert, in order to verify the authenticity of the patina, the sculpture, and the tribal use.