X88.482 Venovi Figure

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Venovi Figure
Ewe peoples
Wood and pigment
H: 21.4 cm, W: 6.5 cm, D: 5.6 cm (H: 8.4 in, W: 2.5 in, D: 2.2 in)
Fowler Museum at UCLA. Gift of Mary Stansbury Ruiz. X88.482


The Ewe peoples of Togo consider the birth of twins (venovi) to be a happy and auspicious occasion. Both twins must be treated identically; for example, they are bathed and fed at the same time, and until puberty they are dressed alike. If a twin dies, the parents obtain a small figure to take the place of the deceased child. They usually purchase it from a carver at a weekly market and have it activated by a specialist. The carving, also called twin or venovi, correctly shows the gender of the child, but exhibits adult physical traits. Scarification and added clothing and strings of beads reveal family and clan religious and social affiliations.

Source: Cameron, Elisabeth L. (1996) “Isn’t S/He a Doll?”, Los Angeles, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. page 67