Akua'ba Fertility Doll Figure Ghana
Unique hand-carved African figure adorned with yellow strands of beads.
Among the Akan, childbearing is an important responsibility of women who are considered to have not fulfilled their purpose on earth unless they have had children and since the Akan are a matrilineal society girl babies are preferred.
The tradition of how akuaba came to be is based upon the story of a childless woman named Akua who went to her local shrine to consult with the priest about her desire to have a child. The priest advised her to have a small figure carved and to treat it as she would a real child carrying it in a cloth on her back. At first, ridiculed, she was in time to deliver a real child, a girl, to the astonishment of her friends who exclaimed to her Akua, wo ba ni Akua, this is your child. The child was named Akua or Wednesday born.
Since that time barren women among the Akan who wish children will have a figure carved to keep by their side or after the child is born to place the akuaba in a shrine as an offering and remembrance.
As shrine pieces, an akuaba is often painted with white clay to carry messages to the spirits. If kept by women at home akuaba would be dressed with cloth, wear jewelry, and have hairstyles carved along the edges of the round head or inscribed on the back of the head. Some akuaba have scars on their faces, not for identification or aesthetics, but so that the spirits will not take them back.
Families who have lost several children will cut small marks on the cheeks or temples so that the spirits who love beautiful children will be misleading and not return them to the spirit world.
Approximate Age: Early 20th Century
Made In: Africa