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Image of Akua'ba (Fertility Doll)

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unknown Fante

Akua'ba (Fertility Doll)

Late 19th century - Early 20th century

10 1/2 in. x 2 in. x 1 1/2 in. (26.67 cm x 5.08 cm x 3.81 cm)

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 99.5.102
Other Number(s): 82-41 (Neufeld Collection Number)
Geography: Africa, Ghana
Classification: Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts; Ritual Objects
Culture/Nationality: Fante, Akan, Ghanaian, West African, African
Collection: Neufeld Collection
Description: Akan oral tradition tells the story of Akua, a barren woman, who longed to have a child. When a carver created one for her out of wood, the child was then taken to the shrine to be spiritually charged. After being mistreated by others for not having children and carrying a wooden child, Akua became pregnant. Following in this tradition, Akan who wish to become pregnant commission wooden children for themselves to be consecrated at the shrine house as a means of promoting fertility.

Keywords Click a term to view the records with the same keyword
This object has the following keywords:
  • African - Refers to the cultures of the continent of Africa, which is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Akan
  • akua'mma - Fertility figures, usually female, of abstracted form, with disk-like heads with high oval foreheads and most often having horizontal arms, cylindrical torso, breasts, and navel; among Asante of West Africa believed to ensure conception and successful birth.
  • Fante - Culture and style of the Fante peoples, who speak Fante dialects, located in Central and Western regions of Ghana and other regions in middle and southern Ghana.
  • ritual objects - Objects used for a particular ritual activity, often as part of a ceremony.
  • West African - Styles and cultures from the region comprising the westernmost area of the African continent, defined by the United Nations as including the modern nations of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.
  • wood - The principal tissue of trees and other plants that provides both strength and a means of conducting nutrients. Wood is one of the most versatile materials known.

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Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:
  • African and Pacific Art from the Neufeld Collection Bryn Mawr College , Apr 28, 1993 – Jun 1, 1993

  • Owner Name: Mace Neufeld and Helen Katz Neufeld, Class of 1953
    Role: Donor
    Place: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US
    Ownership End Date: 7/18/1991

Comparanda List
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): Record No.: 0054851.

Related Bibliography List
The following Related Bibliography exist for this object:
  • Esther A. Dagan, African Dolls for Play and Magic (Montreal, Canada: Galérie Amrad African Arts, 1990), 70-77.
  • Frank Willett, African Art (London, England: Thames & Hudson, 2002), 108.
  • Elisabeth L. Cameron, "In Search of Children: Dolls and Agency in Africa." African Arts 30, no. 2 (Spring 1997): 18-33, 93.
  • Monica Blackmun Visona and Robin Poynor. A History of Art in Africa (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2001), 211-212.
  • "ÌMỌ̀ DÁRA." (Accessed May 10, 2020):

Portfolio List Click a portfolio name to view all the objects in that portfolio
This object is a member of the following portfolios:

If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=BMC>cite web |url= |title=Akua'ba (Fertility Doll) |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=6/8/2023 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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