Ewe Venavi or Venovi Figure
A wonderful Ewe Venavi or Venovi figure, stunning carving and a lovely smooth patina.
Origin: Togo & Ghana
Approx Age: Mid – Later 20th Century
Materials: Wood & Glass Beads
Dimensions cm: 21 tall including base
Ref. Number: 0957
A beautiful example of a Ewe Venavi or Venovi figure or doll. Very smooth patina, stunning symmetrical features, carved exquisitely, showing a lovely coiffure. Has the appearance of being extremely loved and cherished due to the facial features being so worn. Looking at this piece the wood seems much older than the glass beads that adorn it so it is possible the glass beads, as beautiful as they are, could have been added at a later date.
Provenance: ex UK collection.
Ewe figures embody the traditional double appearance of twins. The Ewe people call them Venavi, and they are revered. The modern appearance is explained by the fact that dead twins are seen as living people, because they have accepted modern ways. The figures wear shoes, trousers and other objects. The statues are a remembrance of the dead twins. No one ever says a twin has died. They say he or she is in the bush fetching fire wood. This means that he is not far and will come back soon. Twins are considered to be immortal. From birth on they are considered to be gods or spirits, and must always get special care.
If twins are to be of any benefit, they must be housed and looked after particularly well. They must be given the best food, drink and clothes. One tries to spoil them in every possible way, in order for them to display their abilities for the benefit of the family, rather than making them feel so neglected that they might do harm.
Among some groups, such as the Yoruba in Nigeria, the Ewe in Togo, and the Fon in Benin, a real twin cult has sprung up. Twins are regarded as the chosen ones of the spirit powers. Their amazing closeness, which is believed to survive even death, is stressed. The Yoruba beieve that twins have a joint soul. If one dies, the other twin is also threatened with death.Their soul has lost its equilibrium and sways between this world and the next. The dead twin determinedly tries to pull the survivor over to him as soon as possble. That has to be opposed. Not only do the parents put more effort then ever into the surviving child , they also try to keep the dead one in their midst.
Reference taken from Soul of Africa Museum.
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