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HOME : African & Tribal Art : Asante Akua'ba Dolls : Asante Wooden Akua'ba Doll
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Asante Wooden Akua'ba Doll - DA.406
Origin: Ghana
Circa: 20 th Century AD
Dimensions: 13" (33.0cm) high
Collection: African Art
Medium: Wood
Condition: Very Fine

Additional Information: SOLD

Location: United States
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This is a delightful example of one of Africa’s most recognisable fertility idols, the Asante Akuaba doll. Like most tribes, the Asante hold fertility in extremely high regard; those societies that do not grow are doomed to fail. As a result, women are, from an early age, constantly aware of the importance of conception and successful delivery of live children. Any failure to do so would be construed as a disgrace and ill- fortune not only for her, but for her family and tribe. So to negate any ill-fortune, she may visit the tribal medicine man to commission a piece such as this.

Endowed with magical properties, these dolls are treated as if they were real babies – carried around, dressed, washed, fed and even put to bed. It is likely that they do have a positive effect on the prevalence of successful conception, if only from a psychosomatic point of view. Once born, the child may be encouraged to play with the doll, thus promoting maternal sentiment; while a male child may be wished for, these dolls are almost always female, partly because of the matrilineal nature of Asante society. The Asante are one of six tribes that go to make up the Akan group. Their society, which was founded in the 14th century, has had a very turbulent history and was involved in the 18th century federation that took a golden stool as their emblem and rose up against the European invaders.

The face is extremely well-rendered, with a serene expression enhanced by the addition of high arched eyebrows and nose in a joined “T” format. The eyes and mouth are identical in terms of form, in the so-called “coffee-bean” design. The neck is comprised of numberous rings that are meant to represent necklaces, and thus wealth. It is probable that this piece was carved for and at the behest of a high-status member of the tribe. The fact that it has been well-used, and developed a good patina, would seem to suggest that her prayers were answered. This is a beautiful and eloquent piece of Asante art. - (DA.406)


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