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Unknown Maker
Female Figure (Akua Ba) Female Figure (Akua Ba)
20th century 20th century

For the Asante peoples of Ghana, a daughter is a desired child due to their matrilineal structure. Akua ma (the plural form of the singular akua ba) derive their impact from the oral tradition that relates the story of Akua, a woman who desperately wanted a child. On the advice of a priest, she commissioned a sculptor to create a figure such as this, and treated it as if it were a real child. As she eventually became pregnant and gave birth, her story inspired barren Asante women to practice the same ritual. In some cases, when a woman becomes a mother, she gives the figure to her daughter to use as a doll.

The flatness of the figure makes it convenient for carrying in the woman¿s wrapper, as she would a real child. Typical of akua ma is the large disc-shaped head, prominent for showing such Akan ideals of beauty as a high forehead and ringed neck. Representing rolls of fat, the rings signify beauty, health and prosperity. Less typical of such sculptures is the naturalistic rendering of the body, as most akua ma possess a simple cylinder with stick-like horizontal arms, as seen in another sculpture in the Lang collection (M84-284).

 
Unknown Maker
Asante peoples Asante peoples
Female Figure (Akua Ba) Female Figure (Akua Ba)
20th century 20th century
wood wood
height / width / depth: 26.00 x 10.00 x 4.00 cm; 10.24 x 3.94 x 1.57 in.
Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984 Gift of Justin and Elisabeth Lang, 1984
M84-266

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