Akua ‘Ba

Fante peoples

Republic of Ghana

Akua ‘Ba, early 20th century

  • On View

Wood with white bead necklace

Dimensions: 10 3/4 × 2 1/4 in. (27.3 × 5.7 cm)

Gift of Justice and Mrs. G. Mennen Williams, 1973.51

This highly stylized Akua ‘Ba fertility figure represents ideal feminine beauty. A woman desiring to get pregnant may commission a figure to increase her fertility, to function as a prayer for the physical beauty of the anticipated child, and as protection against deformity or ugliness. Fertility figures are tied to a woman’s belt and wrapped in her skirt, in much the same way a mother would carry an infant. The Fante people have a lighter skin tone than the majority of people in the Ghana coastal region, and this figure like much Fante art, reflects that difference. The cross on a string carved on the figure’s chest shows the influence of European culture and Christianity.

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