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    Description

    Akan (Ghana, Western Africa)
    Akuaba human figure
    Wood, pigment and beads
    Height: 11-3/4 inches

    Akuaba are small wood sculptures created by ritual specialists for women who hope to have a child. Since the Akan are matrilineal, akuaba are depicted as female. According to legend, a woman named Akua longed for a child. A priest advised that she have a small wooden doll made and then treat it as if it were a living child. Eventually Akua gave birth to a baby girl and other barren women began to commission akuaba as well.

    This figure has the disk shaped head typical of akuaba. The face and the torso are delicately incised with thin lines suggesting scarification. There is also a series of holes along the top of the head which would have been decorated with small ornaments. The body is a variation of the most familiar type of Akuaba. Instead of a cylindrical torso with peg arms, this figure has much more naturalistic appearance, a style which developed in the first decades of the 20th century. According to Akan specialist Dr. Martha Ehrlich, this change in aesthetic might reflect the influence of European art in West Africa (detailed letter of expertise dated February 24, 2014, included with the lot). Well documented examples of akuaba with naturalistic limbs exist in museum collections such as the akuba (1979.206.75) in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. However, figures in this style are scarce and highly prized when as well executed as the present example.

    NOTE:
    This item is accompanied by a letter of expertise from Dr. Martha Ehrlich dated February 24, 2014.


    Condition Report*: Condition report available upon request.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2014
    16th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 719

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