FigureArtist(s)Northern CameroonObject Creation Date20th centuryMedium & Supportwood, beads, string, and human hairDimensions
11 in x 4 15/16 in x 2 ¾ in (27.94 cm x 12.54 cm x 6.99 cm)Credit LineGift of Dr. James and Vivian CurtisSubject matter
This figure was most likely made by the Dowayo peoples of Cameroon—also called Namchi or Namji. Blacksmiths created wooden dolls for women who had trouble conceiving; the doll was then decorated with beads to resemble a newly initiated woman. As a symbol of potential motherhood, women would treat the doll as a real child until she became pregnant.
Cameron, Elisabeth L. 1997. “In Search of Children: Dolls and Agency in Africa.” African Arts
, Vol. 30, No. 2: pp. 18-33, 93.Physical Description
Carved wooden human figure with a columnar body and limbs. The body is decorated with strands of beads, primarily red, white, and purple. The neck and ankles have multiple strands of yellow beads while one wrist has a metal bracelet. The top of the figure is decorated with human hair. Primary Object Classification Sculpture Primary Object TypefigureCollection AreaAfricanRights
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Objects We Use
children (people by age group)
families (kinship groups)
women (female humans)