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Image of Akua'ba (Fertility Doll)

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Bookmark: http://triarte.brynmawr.edu/objects-1/info/146054



unknown Asante
Asante Primary



Akua'ba (Fertility Doll)

Late19th century - Mid 20th century
Carved and incised wood

10 1/2 in. x 4 1/2 in. (26.67 cm x 11.43 cm)

Bryn Mawr College
Accession Number: 99.6.18
Other Number(s): P32 (Plass Number)
Geography: Africa, Ghana
Classification: Ceremonial and Performance Artifacts; Ritual Objects
Culture/Nationality: Asante, Akan, Ghanaian, West African, African
Collection: Plass Collection

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.
  • Asante - The culture and style of people of south-central Ghana and adjacent areas of Togo and Côte d'Ivoire.
  • fertility dolls
  • figurines - Three-dimensional works that represent humans, animals, or mythical beasts at less than half life-size. While the term may be used interchangeably with "statuette" in certain situations, it differs in that a statuette is always free-standing while a figurine may be part of a larger work, such as a decorative detail on a candelabra or mirror.
  • patina - An aged appearance caused by environmental factors, acquired naturally or artificially induced; used especially with regard to a surface layer on metal caused by oxidation or corrosion.
  • sculpture - Three-dimensional works of art in which images and forms are produced in relief, in intaglio, or in the round. The term refers particularly to art works created by carving or engraving a hard material, by molding or casting a malleable material (which usually then hardens), or by assembling parts to create a three-dimensional object. It is typically used to refer to large or medium-sized objects made of stone, wood, bronze, or another metal. Small objects are typically referred to as "carvings" or another appropriate term. "Sculpture" refers to works that represent tangible beings, objects, or groups of objects, or are abstract works that have defined edges and boundaries and can be measured. As three-dimensional works become more diffused in space or time, or less tangible, use appropriate specific terms, such as "mail art" or "environmental art."
  • statues - Sculpture in the round, usually but not always depicting humans, animals, mythical beings, or small figure groups. Statues are relatively large in scale, being life-size, larger than life-size, or only slightly smaller than life-size. For small-scale representations of humans, animals, or mythical beings, use "figurines," "statuettes," or another appropriate term. For depictions of humans, animals, or mythical beings in media other than sculpture, use "figures (representations)."
  • 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.

Additional Images Click an image to view a larger version
Additional Image 99.6.18_BMC_f_2.jpg
99.6.18_BMC_f_2.jpg
Additional Image 99.6.18_BMC_f.jpg
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Additional Image 99.6.18_BMC_pl.jpg
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Additional Image 99.6.18_BMC_pr.jpg
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Additional Image 99.6.18_BMC_r.jpg
99.6.18_BMC_r.jpg

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:
  • A Curious Group; a cabinet of curiosities Bryn Mawr College , Apr 4, 2014 – Jun 30, 2014
  • Worlds to Discover: 125 Years of Collections at Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr College , Sep 24, 2010 – May 28, 2011
  • Journeys Through African Womanhood Bryn Mawr College , Feb 14, 2003 – Mar 28, 2003
  • African Art in the Greater Philadelphia Area The Community College of Philadelphia with a Grant from the William Penn Foundation , Nov 12, 1999 – Dec 17, 1999
  • A Celebration of Black History: African Art from the Neufeld and Plass Collections Bryn Mawr College , Feb 24, 1992 – Mar 13, 1992
  • African Art from the Collection of Margaret Feurer Plass '17 Bryn Mawr College , May 19, 1990 – Oct 1, 1992

Bibliography List
The following Bibliography exist for this object:
  • Marianne Hansen and Emily Croll. Worlds to Discover. Bryn Mawr College. Bryn Mawr, PA, 2010
    Page Number: 29
  • Carrie Robbins and Nathanael Roesch. A Curious Group. Bryn Mawr College. Bryn Mawr, PA, April 4–June 1, 2014
    Figure Number: Wood 19
  • Frisk & Borodin Appraisers, Inventory and Appraisement Belonging to the Estate of Margaret Barton Plass, Deceased. 7 March 1990 Bryn Mawr College Special Collections. Bryn Mawr, PA, 1990
    Page Number: 2, Figure Number: 32

Comparanda List
The following Comparanda exist for this object:
  • Esther A. Dagan, African Dolls for Play and Magic (Montreal, Canada: Galérie Amrad African Arts, 1990), 71-75.
  • Frank Willett, African Art (London, England: Thames & Hudson, 2002), 108. Figure Number: 103
  • "Society of African Missionaries African Art Museum Website." (Accessed April 21, 2020):
  • Jean- Baptiste Bacquart, The Tribal Arts of Africa (New York, NY: Thames & Hudson, 1998), 32. Figure Number: 4
  • "African Heritage Document and Research Center." (Accessed June 11, 2020): AHDRC.eu. Record No.: 0051071.

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): 18-93.
  • "Society of African Missionaries African Art Museum Website." (Accessed April 21, 2020):
  • Rosyln Adele Walker, The Arts of Africa at the Dallas Museum of Art (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009), 118-119.
  • Jean- Baptiste Bacquart, The Tribal Arts of Africa (New York, NY: Thames & Hudson, 1998), 32.
  • "ÌMỌ̀ DÁRA." (Accessed May 10, 2020): Imodara.com. https://www.imodara.com/magazine/african-child-figures-are-not-dolls/.

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=http://triarte.brynmawr.edu/objects-1/info/146054 |title=Akua'ba (Fertility Doll) |author=Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections |accessdate=12/1/2022 |publisher=Bryn Mawr College</ref>

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