X86.1086a-c Ibeji with beaded gown and cowrie crown

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Ibeji with beaded gown and cowrie crown
Yoruba peoples
Wood, cotton cloth, glass beads, cowrie shells, coins, leather, thread, camwood powder, laundry bluing
L: 8.0 cm, H: 31.4 cm, D: 7.5 cm (L: 3.1 in, H: 12.3 in, D: 2.9 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift in memory of Barbara Jean Jacoby. X86.1086a-c


This memorial figure sports a camwood encrusted cap festoooned with cash in the form of cowries and kobo, British copper pennies whose pierced centers made them beads for the Yoruba. The funfun and pupa colors of Sango dominate the top. Bead and iron necklaces join a triangular tira (Muslim amulet) — leather packet encasing Koranic texts and/or power substances for protection and empowerment — that plays upon the triangular form of Sango’s edun ara (thunder celts) and the outer panels of the beaded garment. The face on the gown has the celt mark on its forehead, like those we have seen on crowns and other beaded regalia.

Source: Drewal, H., Mason, J. (1998). “Beads, Body, and Soul – Art and Light in the Yoruba Universe”, Los Angeles: UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 253