Fertility Doll (Akuaba)
10 x 3 5/8 in. (25.4 x 9.2 cm)
Medium and Support:
Wood and beads
Gift of Mrs. Nathaniel T. Whitcomb
Location: Currently on view
Fertility is a universal human concern that has long been a central issue in Africa where the infant mortality rate remains high to this day. An akuaba is a fertility talisman meant to aid an Asante woman yearning to become a mother.
Akuaba are affectionately bathed, dressed, fed and carried by women as they would a living child. Their slight, flat shape is designed to be carried on a woman’s back in her cloth wrapper. When the woman’s child survives childhood, the akuaba is sometimes placed in a shrine as an offering of thanks to the god responsible. Almost all of these fertility dolls are female as the Asante are a matrilineal society and most women wish for daughters to carry on their family line.
[Gallery label text, 2009]