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Between and Mortarboard

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Accession Number


Northern Cameroon

Object Creation Date
20th century

Medium & Support
wood, beads, leather, and string

10 ¼ in x 3 9/16 in x 3 ⅛ in (26.04 cm x 9.05 cm x 7.94 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

Subject matter
This figure was most likely made by the Dowayo peoples of Cameroon—also called Namchi or Namji. Blacksmiths created wooden figures for women who had trouble conceiving; the sculpture 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.

References Cited:
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 human figure with a columnar torso and neck, and wide shoulders and hips. The limbs of the figure are straight. The head is small with a curved coiffure or headdress. There are small eyes and a mouth on the face. The neck and torso of the figure are wrapped with strings of beads, mostly white or light colored. Each wrist has a strip of leather wrapped around with a fringe hanging down the back. 

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
Objects We Use
children (people by age group)
families (kinship groups)
women (female humans)

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