A large Ashanti Akuaba doll
A genuine Akuaba doll in Ghana symbol of fertility.
West Ghana is the home of the Ashanti tribe for whom the fertility doll is very important. This fetish, the Ashanti figure is called an akuaba or akaba. Of polished wood, and stained black, the head is in the shape of a large flat disc. The forehead is high, the nose is flat and the mouth is small. The head is held up by a slender neck, which appears to be composed of a series of rings. The body, neck and arms form the shape of a cross, the arms having no joints or hands. The base is circular, which allows the object to stand free. When we compare several Akuaba figures, we notice that facial expressions and markings vary. Breasts are small, and some figures have a protruding navel.
The doll is carried on the back of an expectant mother during her pregnancy so that her child will be born beautiful just like the doll.
This stylized piece of sculpture tells us the importance of fertility and the child for Ashanti women. Sterile women who hope, by keeping an akuaba with them, to become pregnant also use the figures. Little girls often learn how to take care of children by playing with akuaba dolls.
It was common for a woman wanting a child to carry with her a doll in order to enhance her fertility.
A rich woman will sometimes have precious stones or beads on the doll. A pregnant Ashanti woman would always carry these dolls on her back if she hoped for a beautiful child. The style of the doll would depend on whether she hoped for a boy or a girl. Women played an important role in insuring the continuance of the family line. A man without a child would have no one to watch over his funeral rites to make sure that his spirit passed over into the spirit world.
A woman's social position often depended upon the number and quality of her pregnancies. In many of the tribes it was common for a woman wanting a child to carry with her a doll in order to enhance her fertility. This doll would be cared for as a baby, being bathed and carried on the mother's back.
The egg or oval shape is therefore a shape of beauty for the Ashanti woman because of the fact that it represents a pregnant woman. To the women of the Ashanti tribe, the Akuaba is still a symbol of the woman and fertility. Ashanti women carry the Akuaba statues on their backs when they want to have babies
The Akuaba symbolizes life in this world.
The Ashanti believe that a woman is made up of a series of ovals. The half circle represents the female fertility aspect and the oval also symbolizes cleansing power of the female. Ashanti women are obsessive about cleansing and teach their daughters how to be sweet smelling with forest herbs.
This nice Akuaba is 40 cm high
It is coming from a private Antwerp collection
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