Akua Ba The Fertility Dolls

The best known and most numerous Asanti carvings are the akua’ ba. These so-called fertility dolls are carved for women who are having difficulty conceiving children or, according to some accounts, for women who are pregnant. A woman takes such a carving to a priest who consecrates it and invokes the influence of a deity to induce pregnancy (or in the case of a woman who is pregnant, to ensure the birth of a perfect child). The woman then carries the figure for a stated period of time tucked into the back of her waist cloth. The figures are fondled, dressed and adorned with earrings and waist beads just as a real child would be. The akua’ba embody the Asanti ideal of beauty with a disc-shaped head and rings of fat around the neck indicating a prosperous and healthy condition. Asanti mothers seek to induce the desired head shape in their infants by gently massaging the soft cranial bones of the newborns.