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Ghana Fertility Figure (Akua'ba)
Ghana Fertility Figure (Akua'ba)
Resource Typeimage
TitleGhana Fertility Figure (Akua'ba)
Coverage / YearGhana; Late 19th Century
DescriptionCarved wooden female figure is an abstraction, with a disproportionally large head. The cylindrical body stands on a short base and the tapering arms extend straight out from the body. The head is a nearly flattened oval, with squinting eyes and pursed mouth in low relief and a triangular nose in deeper relief; the cheeks are carved with shallow marks representing scarification. An elongated neck is carved to represent wide metal neck rings. The figure's breasts and belly button are indicated. Strings of tiny beads hang from a hole in the end of each arm and are wrapped around the body.
InterpretationYoung pregnant women and women hoping to become pregnant carried this type of doll (akua'ba) to ensure the birth of a healthy and beautiful baby. The doll's form reflects Asanti ideals of beauty such as a high flattened forehead, small mouth and long, ringed neck. The size of the head in relationship to the rest of the figure reflects the Asanti cultural emphasis on the head and mind. A mother-to-be adorned her doll with jewelry, fed and bathed it, dressed it, carried it around during the day and put it to bed at night just as they would the baby after it was born. The African environment challenges human existence. Disease, drought, famine and both physical and human disasters threaten life. Large families are important both to assist in farming and also to continue to nourish the spirits of the ancestors through sacrificial offerings. As a result, many African objects (and art) are directed towards encouraging the fertility of women.
Lesson Plans / ThemesAfrican Folk Tales; African Novel Study; Ghana Artifacts
Learning Standards16 History; 18 Social Systems; 25-27 Fine Arts
Author or CreatorAshanti (African people) Social life and customs;
SourceDonated to the Lakeview Museum by Richard K. Meyer.
Subject / KeywordsGhana; Africa; Sculptures; Dolls; Asanti culture
Collection PublisherLakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences
Further InformationFor any further information related to this record, please contact the Collection Publisher. See http://images.library.uiuc.edu/projects/tdc for more information about this project.
Rights Management Statementhttp://images.library.uiuc.edu/projects/tdc/conditions.htm
Resource IdentifierLVM1974.010.007
CONTENTdm file name7963201972002_fertilityfigure.jpg
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