Akuaba

Africa | Ghana

Akuaba

Ghana

Akuaba fertility doll
Ashanti

Carved wood
Early 20th century
Height: 11 ¾ in. – 30 cm

Ex collection Dr. John Finley (1946-2019), New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Ex collection Gregory Ghent, Santa Fe, USA
Ex collection Jo de Buck, Brussels

Akuaba doll 30 cm ex Ghent collection/ Galerie Flak Price on request
This type of Ashanti figure is called akuaba. It represents youth and fertility. Such carved figures were said to facilitate the conception of a child and ensure safe delivery at birth. Ashanti (Akan) women carried the dolls with them at all times. They treated them as if they were living babies, cuddling them, dressing them up, etc.
In terms of symbolism, the flat, disk-like head represents an 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.
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