African Ewe Twin Dolls with Glass Trade Beads
This fascinating pair of hand carved wooden dolls are from the Ewe people of southern Togo and Ghana in West Africa. The Ewe are best known for these figures called "venavi;" they are associated with twins, whose birth the Ewe consider to be a good omen.
This pair of fraternal twins are carved from the wood of the local kapok tree and have a aged honey color patina. Typical Ewe features on these dolls include the ovoid faces with protruding eyes and the black pigment on the hair and feet. They are standing rigid, with their arms held away from their bodies, pointing straight down. They have carved fingers; the male has red fingertips, while the female's are plain.
The female measures 7 1/2 inches tall, the male slightly taller at 8 inches. Each weighs about 1/4 of a pound and stands steadily erect, but are easily tipped over if bumped.
The male is wearing a string of clear, tiny glass trade beads with a metal screw clasp, simply looped around his neck. The female's Y necklace is more elaborate, composed of various size red glass two-layered beads with white hearts (centers), ending in tiny silvery metal rings; it also has a metal screw clasp. The trade beads are Venetian, bartered in Africa for centuries, especially in West Africa, where these figures were made.
The figures are early to mid-20th century, while the beads may be older than that. Everything is in excellent condition---no damage to the figures, no missing beads and no repairs. They are authentic and so is the wear to the wood and pigments.