Fertility enshrined in a carving

Wondering why a woman in Ghana is likened to the Akuaba doll? It is typical to hear praises sang about concepts like power, beauty, wealth, riches, love, death, marriage, puberty trans-culture. Beauty as depicted in the African woman comes in her physical characteristics with costume playing a major role as well.

The typical African woman without doubt has profound curves at each point of her frame. However, with all that nature gives to the African feminine personality, there is one thing that either makes her stand tall among other women or crushes her soul when she’s without. Can you tell me what it is? I will help you out; it is what unfolds out of love between a man and a woman; a baby.

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In the olden days, a child to a couple was as key to marriage as love, wealth and commitment. Women who were said to be barren had to withstand harsh treatment from husbands as well as society who mocked her wherever she went. I bet that was when you’d hear an overstretched ‘Tweeaaa!’ following the step of a woman who was deemed barren. Often times, a new woman would be brought in to the household to procreate besides the first wife and would even be rewarded with a goat (Badu’dwan – goat reward for a 10th born) when she gave birth to ten (10) children.

At this point in the childless woman’s life, it wasn’t about how much curves, hair or beauty of the face but only one thing, ‘a child’ and this is what brings us to the understanding and the relevance attached to this famous doll; The Akuaba.

Ghanaian African tradition deems the Akuaba doll to be a symbol of fertility.  The strong belief system  surrounding this doll arises from the fact that when a barren women took her case to the oracle, she was given  the Akuaba doll to be placed under the bed on which she lay with the husband and after a few tries, the woman ended up with a baby bump!


Unlike today, this carved figure of a black woman was carried by girls and women to promote their fertility and to ensure the beauty and health of their offspring. The round, flat disc heads, columnar body with outstretched arms and smooth, black surface convey the Asante’s (or Ashanti) ideal of beauty.

So then, many musicians, poet and dramatist of the time wrote and sang memorable tunes, scripts, and praises to its name as it brought the basics of life and happiness to the African woman.

Well, if you hit the art gallery, do get generous with your kid and grab her an Akuaba doll, the joy of every woman imbibed in a carving popular among the many sculpture pieces. Our culture lives on, One and United Ghana!

You may also be interested in ‘The Akuaba Poem’  http://gg.tigweb.org/country/ghana/313/

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