Ashanti (or Asante) tribespeople of Ghana carve female dolls called Akuaba that are believed to have the power to cause barren women to conceive as well as produce beautiful healthy children. To effect the magic, the doll is carried and treated like an actual child, after use being placed in a household shrine. Nearby tribespeople also use Akuaba but theirs are carved ina different style.
The Akuaba displayed here was made for export. Like the original dolls, it was hand-carved from wood which was then stained and finished. It is about 14¼ inches tall. (It was purchased from the gift shop of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.)