Student Interpretation → Kiersten Gilbert

  • Fertility Figure

Asante Fertily Figure

Akua$#39ba fertility dolls are the product of the Asante people of Ghana. Fertility and the bearing of children are of great importance to the Asante, and these dolls are carried by Asante women in belief that they will ensure protection from the gods for them and their unborn children. They are also often used as offerings on the altar of the god, Nyame in an attempt to ensure fertility. Glass beads are placed on the dolls as a gift to gain favor in the eyes of Nyame. The flat, round forehead of the doll, along with the long, ringed neck, are physical traits that are thought to be the ideal beauty for an Asante person.

Fertility Figure

Fertility figure (akua'ba)

Asante People
Ghana
Fertility Figure (akua‘ba)
20th Century
Wood, glass beads, wire
Gift of Rod McGalliard
2002.39.2

Akua’ ba or “child of Akua” figures are recommended by Asante priests for women who have problems with fertility or childbearing. The figure embodies characteristics of Asante ideal beauty and health – a large rounded forehead, even features and a ringed neck –reflecting the desire to have a healthy and beautiful child. Some figures are further embellished by the addition of ornaments, given as gifts from the prospective mother. The finely beaded strands on the neck and head of this figure recall the Asante use of opulent beaded ornaments as signs of a woman’s beauty, wealth and prestige.

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