- Museum number
Akua'ba, female 'doll' figure; made of wood with disc-shaped head, short projecting arms, ringed neck, breasts, and protruding navel. Columnar torso expanding to base. Wears necklace of blue glass beads at base of torso. Edge of head pierecd with holes on either side and at top.
- Production date
- 1914 (before)
Height: 34.30 centimetres
Width: 14.30 centimetres
Depth: 5.30 centimetres
- Curator's comments
Wooden doll with flat circular head and conventional body.
'Used by women as fertility charm, called Akua'ba.'
Ashanti. (See Rattray. Religion and Art in Ashanti, p. 281 fig. 194-195)
Akua'ba dolls are used by women who fear infertility. It is important for women to be successful in having children. Infertility, miscarriage or infant death are feared by women as they raise suspicions of witchcraft. A woman who has many children who survive is highly regarded and plays a role in girls' initiation rites. Among the Asante the line of descent passes through the female, so women are expected to bear female children to continue this line.
If a woman does not conceive, she consults a herbalist or priest who supplies the akua'ba doll. Following consultations with the priest the woman carries the doll on her back, tied by a cloth in the position in which a real child is carried, until she becomes pregnant.
Sometimes fathers buy or make these dolls for their daughters to play with, believing that this will influence child-bearing in adult life.
M.D. McLeod, The Asante (London, The British Museum Press, 1981)
H.M. Cole and D.H. Ross, The arts of Ghana-1 (University of California - Los Angeles)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1980 Sept., London, BM, Asante: Kingdom of Gold
2003, BM G69a, Celebrating the British Museum, John Maine's Anniversary Medal
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Register 1940:
'Collected by donor's husband about 1914 [when working] in the goldmines.'
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number