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Akua'ba

Late 19th century
Artist/maker unknown, Akan

Figures called akua’ba, which translates literally from the Akan language as "Akua’s child," are important fertility aids among Ghanaian women. The sculpture’s large forehead, ringed neck, and high protruding breasts symbolize the primary characteristics associated with maternity: intelligence and fecundity.


This akua’ba was purchased by art collector Louis E. Stern (who later donated it to the museum) in 1955, two years before residents of what European colonizers had called the Gold Coast gained their independence from the United Kingdom. Kwame Nkrumah and the Convention People’s Party that he headed led the independence movement, and Nkrumah became the first prime minister of Ghana. His government promoted art forms like akua’ba as part of his effort to promote a new flourishing of Ghanaian and pan-African culture.

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Object Details
With J. J. Klejman Gallery, New York; sold to Louis E. Stern (1886-1962), New York, November 19, 1955; bequest to PMA, 1963.

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