Berz Gallery of African Art
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SOLD Aftersale! Lot 42. Vintage Asante Doll "akua ba" Est. $1200-$1800

Asante Tribe, Ghana

Composition: wood, stain, encrustation and two tons of attitude Dimensions: 10" (25.4 cm) Provenance: Ex. Galerie Frank van Craen, Brussels, Ex. Private European Collection Exhibition History: Vetted by a committee of tribal art experts as antique and authentic and exhibited at BRUNEAF, January 2017 All purchases includes custom made base as displayed and a complete dossier/certificate of authenticity. Figures of this type have historically been found throughout the Akan area. Their name literally means “Akua’s child” (Akua ba). According to Asante legend, a woman named Akua became pregnant and had a beautiful daughter by carrying one of these figures. Until recently, many Akan women used them to induce fertility or, if pregnant, to ensure the birth of a daughter. The figure is carried on the back like a living child until the desired result is obtained. This custom is probably ancient, even though it was not reported or described until 1885. Specifically with respect to this example, it is a very early style and shows extensive handling, surface wear, and use in a tribal context. It is in very good condition in light of what was undoubtedly a history of indigenous use and long days of travel. Akuaba figures were carved by Akan artists only after they were requested by those in need of them, and they were then consecrated in sacred shrines before being put into personal use. Often, the akuaba would return to these shrines after successfully carrying out their duties. (Ref: Cameron, “Isn't S/He a Doll”; Garrard, “African Art from the Barbier-Mueller Collection, Geneva”; Visona, “A History of Art in Africa”). Akuaba dolls are iconic symbols of the African art form, and are represented in the majority of the most important private and museum collections worldwide. While contemporary examples of the doll can be acquired with relative ease, pieces from the late 19th/early 20th century, or those from important collections become available much less frequently on the art market.