late 1800s–early 1900s
Wood, hair, resin, and bone
Overall: 42.9 x 4.6 x 5.1 cm (16 7/8 x 1 13/16 x 2 in.)
Gift of Katherine C. White 1975.158
Akua'ba are always female, both because Akua’s first child was a girl, and because the Akan and Fante societies are matrilineal, meaning that it is women that extend the family line.
An infertile woman would be advised by a priest to commission such a sculpture and care for it as if it were her baby. With the aim to induce fertility, or to ensure the birth of a healthy and beautiful daughter, the akua'ba figure is carried on the woman's back inside her wrapper. After a successful birth, the figure is placed in the priest's shrine as an offering, or it is given to the newborn as a toy.
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