ASHANTI DOLL, AKUA’BA
early 20th century
Often referred to as ‘dolls’, they are called Akua’ba, or Akua’s child, among the Ashanti. The legend tells that a young woman named Akua, or one who was born on Wednesday, was having trouble conceiving. She consulted a priest who told her to have a wooden ‘child’ made; carry it on her back, and dress, bathe and adorn it with beads as one would a baby. She adhered to the process, and soon had a beautiful and healthy girl. Following her success, other’s emulated Akua, and the figure’s were then called ‘Akua’ba’ in her honor (Doran Ross, in Cameron, Isn’t s/he a doll?, 1996, p. 43).