Healing of the Abiku Children
Humility says there were people before me who found the path. I'm a
road builder. For those who are yet to come. I seem to be finding the
path and they will be road builders. That keeps one humble. Love keeps
one humble.

Maya Angelou
Twins Seven Seven
(Taiwo Olaniyi Oyewale) (b. 1944)
Yoruba people
Western Africa

Healing of the Abiku Children, 1973
wood, paint, ink, varnish, 51 3/8 x 51 9/16 in.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Eiteljorg 1993.8

In Yoruba belief, abiku refers to a child who dies shortly after birth and is reborn several times into the same family.
To halt this cycle of death and rebirth, mothers take their children to a divination priest. In this picture, a mother has
brought twins to the priest, who is seated in the structure behind the mother. Other women assist in the ritual. The
artist is the only survivor of seven sets of twins, the story behind the popular name by which he is known. He began
his career in a workshop for artists in Nigeria in the 1960s and is now known internationally for his art and his
flamboyant personality. His style as an artist is exemplified in this early work. The entire surface is covered from edge
to edge, and intricate abstract patterns fill the background and the space within the outlines of the figures.