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African art - African Dolls:

Many contemporary commentaries claim that dolls and puppets were introduced to the African continent by the Catholic missions for didactic purposes. However, it is clear that the ancestral tradition of puppet show existed long before the arrival of the missions. African puppets are predominantly used in men's shows, while dolls are used by girls and women.


Kikuyu beaded statue
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Kikuyu doll

Most often erroneously attributed to the Namji, this carved figure, lacking arms and embellished with thousands of beads, comes from the Kikuyu or Agikuyu of southwestern Kenya, a population that intermingled around Mount Kenya with the original Gumbas or agumbas inhabitants. They believe in a creator god whom they name Ngai who is said to reside on Mount Kenya, and to whom they regularly offer prayers and offerings. Best known for their shields, the Kikuyu make extensive use in their carving and traditional costumes of glass beads and cowrie shells, as do many East African tribes. Ritualistic practitioners, mundu mugo , are feared, and perform healing rites with divination gourds mwano loaded with therapeutic elements.


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Tabwa Mpundu Doll
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African art > African Dolls > Tabwa doll

Swiss African art collection.

The dolls Mpundu are recognizable by their cylindrical body surmounted by a head whose face is, according to the examples, endowed with little or many scarifications. These dolls are used by members of women's initiation associations. The Tabwa worship twins named bampundu who are supposed to possess magical gifts. Medium orange brown glossy patina.
The Luba dominated the Tabwa in the region along Lake Tanganyika, between Zaire and Zambia. Tabwa or 'be tied up' probably refers to the system of slavery once practiced by Islamic merchants. The Tabwa then regained their independence thanks to the wealth provided by the ivory trade. Just as the influence of the Luba is noticeable in Tabwa societies and rites, Tanzanian tribes have also marked tabwa ...


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Tabwa fetish doll
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African art > African Dolls > Tabwa doll

Ex-German African art collection.
Used by the female initiation society, this tubular carved figure is endowed with female attributes and a protruding umbilicus, scarifications comparable to those, traditional, of the members of the tribe, and has a patina color honey.
The Tabwa ("to scarify" and "to write") are an ethnic group present in the southeast of the DRC. Simple farmers without centralized power, they federated around tribal chiefs after being influenced by the Luba. It is mainly during this period that their artistic current expressed itself mainly through statues but also masks. The Tabwa practiced the cult of ancestors and dedicated some of their statues called mkisi to them. Animist, their beliefs are anchored around the ngulu, spirits of nature present in ...


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Doll Zaramo Mwana hiti
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African art > African Dolls > Poupée Zaramo

The Zaramo and the tribes around them have designed dolls generally associated with fertility, but to which other virtues would be attributed. Its primary role is played during the period of imprisonment of the young zaramo insider. The novice will behave with regard to the object as with a child, and will dance with him during the closing ceremonies of the initiation. If the young woman does not conceive, she will adopt the child. In the Zaramo, this sculpted motif is taken up at the top of the canes, decorates ritual objects and even appears on burial poles. The shape is recurrent, a stylized head, with a dobule or single crest, overcoming a tubular bust devoid of arms where the breasts and umbilical are indicated by a slight relief. The use of pearls is common in the ornamention of the ...


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Couple of statuettes ibedji Yoruba
African art > African Dolls > Ibeji couple

Belgian African art collection.
Wearing only protective adornment 'abiku' colorful pearl necklaces, these doll statuettes (statues), evoking twins, have a conical hairstyle formed of braids. A specificity distinguishes them, the prominent mouth in the form of a beak symolating in the Yorubala divination and the occult world.
Dark brown glossy surface. Indigo residues on the headdress.br- In the language of the Yoruba people, ibeji means twin: ibi for born and eji for dwo. They represent the figure of a deceased twin. This ibedji is then treated as the missing child would have been. It is the mother who must take care of him; she can wash it and feed it regularly. If she dies, the remaining twin takes over. A man also sometimes had ibeji for his wife carve in order to induce ...


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Akua ba Ashanti doll from Ghana
African art > African Dolls > Ashnati doll

Ex-collection of French African art.
Used among the Ashanti and Fantis of Ghana, the Akuaba (plural Akua'mma) doll statuettes are amulets used by Ashanti women to promote fertility. They are easily identifiable because of their stylized appearance. Their flat, circular head has a high forehead occupying the upper part of the head, and the lines are usually drawn in the lower third of the head. A mark of beauty, the often ringed neck also symbolizes prosperity. Carried on the backs of women, these statues are also accompanied by various rites, such as the ingestion of a potion, or the placement of the object on the family altar. After the birth of the child, the sculpture is used as a toy, and sometimes still offered to the healer to witness its effectiveness. Lustrous dark brown ...


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Doll Namji, Namchi, Dowayo
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Namji doll

It is only quite recently that the dolls of the Namji, a people of animist mountain dwellers living in the north of Cameroon, have been known. These effigies represent the human body in stylized elemental forms. This handicraft sculpture presents a head covered with a hat, a long neck gradually flaring out towards a rounded bust, the whole decorated with a multitude of glass beads. Used for the play of little girls, these dolls are mostly used by sterile women in complex fertility rituals, the doll becoming a substitute child, which they will treat as such. The decoration of the doll generally reproduces the attire of the new initiates after their period of seclusion.


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Ashanti Akua ba doll from Ghana
African art > African Dolls > Ashanti doll

Ex-collection of French African art.
Used among the Ashanti and Fantis of Ghana, the Akuaba (plural Akua'mma) doll statuettes are amulets used by Ashanti women to promote fertility. They are easily identifiable because of their stylized appearance. Their flat, circular head has a high forehead occupying the upper part of the head, and the lines are usually drawn in the lower third of the head. A mark of beauty, the ringed neck also symbolizes prosperity. Carried on the backs of women, these statues are also accompanied by various rites, such as the ingestion of a potion, or the arrangement of the object on the family altar. After the birth of the child, the sculpture is used as a toy, and sometimes still offered to the healer to witness its effectiveness. Lustrous golden light ...


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Couple d  Ere Ibeji Yoruba Igbomina
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Ibeji Twins

The ibeji in African art.

In the language of the Yoruba people, ibeji means twin: ibi for born and eji for two. They represent the figure of a deceased twin.
This ibeji is then treated as the missing child would have been. It is the mother who must take care of him; she can wash and feed him regularly. If she dies, the remaining twin takes over.
Considered as much more than a physical representation of a loved one, the ibeji influences the life of the family, that is why the family continues to pray to him and to dedicate cults and libations to him.
These pieces are among the most famous art objects of the Yoruba ethnic group. In fact, the occurrence of twinning in this ethnic group is stronger than anywhere else in Black Africa. This ...


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Statuettes Ere Ibedji Yoruba
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Ibeji dolls

Ibeji statuettes, embodiment of the missing child in Yoruba African art.
Wide almond-shaped eyes, deep scarification on the faces, braids combined into a crest and identical physiognomies that illustrate the aesthetic traditions in Yoruba African art. Solidly encamped on circular supports, these twins wear pearl and cowrie shell ornaments and large metal rings, these elements being associated with the sacred. Chocolate patina, matte inlays.
In the language of the people Yoruba , ibeji means twin: ibi for born and eji for two. They represent the figure of a deceased twin. These African statuettes named ibeji are then treated as the missing child would have been. It is the mother who must take care of them; she can wash and feed them regularly. If she dies, the ...

Poupée Akua ba Ashanti Ghana
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African art > African Dolls > Ashanti doll

Used among the Ashanti and Fantis of Ghana, the Akuaba (plural Akua'mma) doll statuettes are amulets used by Ashanti women to promote fertility. They are easily identifiable because of their stylized appearance. Their flat, circular head has a high forehead occupying the upper part of the head, and the lines are usually drawn in the lower third of the head. A mark of beauty, the ringed neck also symbolizes prosperity. Carried on the backs of women, these statues are also accompanied by various rites, such as the ingestion of a potion, or the arrangement of the object on the family altar. After the birth of the child, the sculpture is used as a toy, and sometimes still offered to the healer to witness its effectiveness. Lustrous dark brown patina.

Fertility figure Biga Mossi
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African art > African Dolls > Mossi doll

This schematic anthropomorphic figure, whose head appearance varies by region, represents a spirit with which a relationship is established. The tubular bust is endowed with sagging breasts, an attribute of fertility and evocation of motherhood. The angular, stylized head evokes the crest hairstyle of the young girls, the engraved motifs drawn on the wood the tegumentary ornaments. Smooth, sained skate.
The Upper Volta, Burkina Faso since independence, is composed of descendants of the invaders, horsemen from Ghana in the 15th century, named Nakomse , and Tengabibisi , descendants of the natives. Political power is in the hands of the Nakomsé, who assert their power through the statues, while priests and religious leaders come from the Tengabisi, who use masks during their ...


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Fertility statue Biga Mossi
African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Mossi doll

A schematic anthropomorphic fertility doll, whose head appearance varies by region, it represents a spirit with which a relationship is established. The tubular bust, slightly swollen at the abdomen, has a chest. The angular, stylized head evokes the feminine crest hairstyle, the parallel incisions, the scarifications and the braids of the ethnic group. Beautiful light brown patina abraded and sained by contact.
The use of dolls by young African women is not done exclusively within the initiation context. When menstruation occurs, the girl is considered a potential mother. In many ethnic groups, the search for fertility is then done through rituals. Wooden figures will then be carved, some reflecting both genres, in many cases covered with pearls and clothing. During the period of ...


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Poupée Ashanti Akua ba
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African art > African Dolls > Statuette Ashanti

Fertility wishes in African art Ashanti.
This stylized female figure, called Akua'ba (plural Akua'mma), has features specific to ashanti dolls, usually devoid of legs: flat, circular head surmounting a cylindrical bust with horizontal arms. Fine coloured pearl necklaces contrast with the particularly lustrous dark patina. These stylized wooden effigies were worn by pregnant women, huddled in their loincloths, to ensure the arrival of beautiful children. The overwhelming majority of these statues are female, with breasts.

Shanti are one of the ethnic groups in Ghana (formerly Côte de l'Or), part of the Akan group, living in a forested area. Like other people living in the central and southern part of Ghana, she speaks a language of the Twi group. This people regard women ...


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Namji, Namchi, Dowayo Doll
African art > African Dolls > Namji doll

It is only quite recently that the dolls of the Namji, people of animist mountain people living in the north of Cameroon, were known. These effigies represent the human body in elementary stylized forms. This handcrafted sculpture presents a head with a crest, a body encircled with necklaces of lively pearls.
Used for the play of little girls, these dolls are mostly used by infertile women in complex fertility rituals, the doll becoming a surrogate child, which they will treat as such. The decoration of the doll generally reproduces the finery of the new initiates after their period of seclusion.


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Akua ba Ashanti Ghana doll
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African art > African Dolls > Ashanti doll

Used among the Ashanti and Fantis of Ghana, the Akuaba (plural Akua'mma) doll statuettes are amulets used by Ashanti women to promote fertility. They are easily identifiable because of their stylized appearance. Their flat, circular head has a high forehead occupying the upper part of the head, and the lines are usually drawn in the lower third of the head. A mark of beauty, the ringed neck also symbolizes prosperity.
Carried on the backs of women, these statues are also accompanied by various rites, such as the ingestion of a potion, or the arrangement of the object on the family altar. After the birth of the child, the sculpture is used as a toy, and sometimes still offered to the healer to witness its effectiveness. Dark brown patina locally abraded.


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Poupée Ashanti Akua ba
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African art > African Dolls > Statuette Ashanti

Fertility wishes in African art Ashanti.
This stylized female figure, wearing a custom abrasion, is called Akua'ba (plural Akua'mma). It has traditional features: a flat, circular head surmounting a narrow bust with horizontal arms. Fine pearl necklaces highlight its volumes. Locally abraded dark satin patina.br>These stylized wooden effigies were worn by pregnant women, huddled in their loincloths, to ensure the arrival of beautiful children. The overwhelming majority of these statues are female, with breasts.

Shanti are one of the ethnic groups in Ghana (formerly Côte de l'Or), part of the Akan group, living in a forested area. Like other people living in the central and southern part of Ghana, she speaks a language of the Twi group. This people regard women as the ...


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Fali Doll
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African art > African Dolls > Fali Doll

Dolls in African art.

It's an engagement fali doll. A particular feature, the body is wide and is surmounted by two heads.
The whole piece is covered with beads of various colors and shapes. The small arms are made up of cauris while the heads wear cord hair.
This type of fetish African doll was carried like a child, behind the back of the young woman. The statuette is a guarantee of marriage and hope to start a family. The size and weight of the doll reinforce the bride's commitment.
The Fali are a people settled in northern Cameroon especially on the hills at the foot of Mount Tinguelin. They are also found in Nigeria and Chad.


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Ere Ibeji Yoruba fetish couple
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African art > The fetish, this emblematic object of primitive art > Yoruba Fetishes

Ex-collection Italian African art.
In the language of the Yoruba people, ibeji means twin: ibi for born and eji for two. They represent the figure of a deceased twin. This ibedji is then treated as the missing child would have been. It is the mother who must take care of him; she can wash and feed him regularly. If she dies, the remaining twin takes over. It also happened that a man would have ibeji carved for his wife to induce pregnancy. Supporting the soul of the twin, the ibeji influenced the life of the family, becoming a source of benefits for his parents, who continued to pray to him and to dedicate cults and libations to him. This is a variant of the Ibeji Era with a cubic body into which a magical charge was introduced. Necklaces of cowries, symbols of fertility and ...

Statuette Ere Ibedji Yoruba
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African art > African Dolls > Statuette Ibeji

Wearing braids in conical buns, this female statuette depicted perched on a circular base, features a thick metal torque, wide rings on the wrists. Crusty libation residues clustered on the surface. Indigo pigments remain on the headdress. Sculpted according to the Ifa indications transmitted to the soothsayer, the babalawo , the Ibedji statuettes played the role of substitute for the death of the child.
The statues are then treated as the missing child would have been. It is the mother who must take care of it; they anoint them with oil and feed them regularly. If it disappears it is the remaining twin who takes over.
Puted as much more than a physical representation of a loved one, linked to the cult of Shango, the ibedji statues are supposed to influence the life and ...

Couple of twins Ibedji Yoruba
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African art > African statues : tribal fetish, maternity > Ibedji Yoruba

Here, the "abiku", adornments with a protective purpose, can be found here in each of the characters carved into coloured pearl necklaces, cauris chains, and metal bells. These statuette-dolls "ere" (statues), evoking twins, feature a hairstyle formed of braids gathered in a sagittal crest.
Satric glossy surface.
In the language of the Yoruba people, ibeji means twin: ibi for born and eji for two. They represent the figure of a deceased twin. This ibedji is then treated as the missing child would have been. It is the mother who must take care of him; she can wash and feed him regularly. If she dies, the remaining twin takes over. A man sometimes had ibeji for his wife to sculpt in order to arouse pregnancy. Supporting the soul of the twin, the ibeji influences the life of the ...





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