This hand carved wooden ritual fertility figure from the Ashanti people in Ghana is one of the most recognized African art forms the world over. These carvings, called akuaba, are blessed by priests, then carried by the women in the tribe who wish to become pregnant or to ensure the health and beauty of a child they are carrying. They are usually carried on the woman’s back, where she would usually carry her baby. These Ashanti figures have large flat heads, which denote a high oval forehead, considered the tribal ideal of beauty.
This carving is 11 ¼ inches tall, 3 ¾ inches at the widest part of her head and has an oval base measuring 1 ¾ inches by 2 inches. The notch at the top of her head is not a chip but a natural cleft in the wood on the back of her head (see the photos.) There is some roughness on the edge of her right side of her head, but the condition overall is excellent for a vintage carving that has seen use.
By: Linda Henrich
Photos By: Wayne Henrich