Fertility Doll (Akuaba)
12 3/8 x 4 7/8 in. (31.4 x 12.4 cm)
Medium and Support:
General Acquisitions Fund
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. The horned hairdo of this akuaba is that of a priestess and indicates the child, if allowed to live, will become a priestess dedicated to a goddess. Normally it is not necessary to dedicate a child; this is more common among older women who had already lost several children.
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]