Akuaba Figure


Large fertility figure

Carved wood
Early 20th century or earlier
Height: 16 in. (41 cm)

Ex private collection, Germany
Ex collection Frank Van Craen, Brussels

Published in: AfriCubisme, 2018

Price: sold

Western Africa
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The legend of the origination of the Akua'ba doll comes from the story of a woman named "Akua" who could not get pregnant. She went to a local priest who commissioned the carving of a small wooden doll. She carried and cared for the doll as if it were her own child. Soon the people in the village started calling it "Akua’ba" - meaning "Akua's child”. She soon became pregnant and her daughter grew up with the doll.
In terms of symbolism, the flat, disk-like head represents the Akan ideal of beauty. The ringed neck, depicting rolls of fat, are symbols of beauty and prosperity. The small scars seen on the face of the akua’ba were made for medicinal purposes as protection against convulsions.