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'Akua Mma' doll, West Africa, 1880-1930

This doll is known as ‘akua mma’. It represents beauty as conceived by the Ashanti people of Ghana, West Africa. The dolls are traditionally carried on women’s backs like a real child. This is said to aid conception and a healthy and successful birth. The name akua mma is said to have come from the story of Akua. She was an Ashanti woman having difficulty conceiving a child. A priest advised her to carry a wooden doll on her back. She gave birth to a healthy child some time later. The distinctive shape of the doll is repeated throughout Ashanti art.

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Glossary: doll

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