Fertility Figure

Unidentified Ashanti maker


collected 1966

Overall: 11 7/16 × 5 1/8 × 1 3/16 in. (29 × 13 × 3 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Museum Purchase



Place Made: Ghana, Western Africa, Africa


20th century

Object Name


Research Area


On view


The large circular head and stylized arms are recognizable forms of Ghanaian fertility figures. They are called Akua ba, meaning “Akua’s child,” which comes from an Akan legend of a woman named Akua who struggled to become pregnant before eventually giving birth to a girl. Prior to motherhood, Akua had commissioned and cared for a carved wooden doll as if she were a real baby even though she was ridiculed for it. Now, Akua ba are fertility charms carried by women, placed in shrines as offerings, kept as secular family heirlooms, and used in memorials to children.

From the 2023 exhibition Homecoming: Domesticity and Kinship in Global African Art, curated by Alexandra Thomas, Curatorial Research Associate

Exhibition History

Homecoming: Domesticity and Kinship in Global African Art, Harteveldt Family Gallery, Owen Robertson Cheatham Gallery, and Northeast Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, July 22, 2023–May 25, 2024.

Sculpture and Sculptor's Drawings, Harrington Gallery Teaching Exhibition, SArt 16,21, and 73, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, September 20-October 7, 1996.


Purchased by Professor James W. Fernandez in Lome, Togo for the Dartmouth College Museum, 1967.

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