Female Figure, Akua'ba



Female Figure, Akua'ba




20th Century


West Africa, Ghana


Wood, beads
14 3/4 x 4 15/16 in. (37.5 x 12.6 cm)

Object Number



The akua'ba figure found among the matrilineal Akan in West Africa was once a renowned way of treating infertility among Akan women. Although rarely practiced today, an akua'ba would be commisioned by a woman unable to conceive and cared for as if it were a living child in hopes of bringing forth a healthy baby of her own. Once a child was born to her, these figures were passed on to daughters, younger sisters, and nieces to ensure their fertility. The high, flat forehead, small mouth, and ringed neck said to depict rolls of fat, characterize Akan idealized female beauty. Although this figure borrows the traditional facial features, neck design and breasts, it differs from the more exaggerated disk-shaped bead and cylindrical abstracted torso of the classical Akua'ba style. This full-bodied naturalism is a twentieth-century style that probably came out of the workshops of Osei Bonsu, chief carver of the last three Asantehenes in Kumase, Ghana.

Credit Line

Ex coll. William S. Arnett


MCCM Permanent Collection Gallery, May 1993 - June 1994|
Five Continents - Nine Millennia, Hartsfield International Airport, Concourse E, March - November 1995|
MCCM Permanent Collection Gallery, 2008 - March 7, 2013


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2008.
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On View



“Female Figure, Akua'ba,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed January 16, 2019, http://carlos.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/items/show/7848.

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