b. Ghana, 20th Century



Female figure (Akua'ba)
20th C.
wood, beads
10 3/4 x 4 3/4 x 2 in.
Originating from the matrilineal Akan culture, this disk-headed figure is one of the most widely recognizable art forms from West Africa. The name akuaba derives from a legend about a barren woman named Akua who was mocked for the trials she went through while attempting to conceive a child. More often referred to simply as fertility dolls, such objects are customarily blessed by priests and are carried by women who have commissioned them in aspirations of becoming pregnant. The large, flat head and outstretched arms which characterize this type of object are not only a common stylistic attribute, but also a practical design allowing the carving to be tucked in a wrapper and held against a womans back in a naturalistic manner akin to how a newborn infant might be carried. After fulfilling this primary function, the figure may be installed in a family shrine or passed on as an heirloom to be appreciated for its feminine beauty and for its capacity to recall the memory of a particular loved one.


20th C.


b. Ghana, 20th Century


UCSB Art Affiliates Purchase Fund





b. Ghana, 20th Century, “b. Ghana, 20th Century,” UCSB ADA Museum Omeka, accessed April 22, 2024, http://art-collections.museum.ucsb.edu/items/show/14374.