Tuesday 10 July 2018

Magical Dolls: Akua'Ba Fertility Dolls from Africa

These African fertility dolls are on display at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. They are called Akua'ba dolls and are hand-carved in Ghana.

The label beside them in the museum explains that the Asante people believe if a woman has one it will increase her fertility. It also explains that they are not toys and are not meant to be realistic, but are based on a traditional folk tale.

According to the story, a woman called Akua was struggling to get pregnant. She visited a psychic who carved her a small wooden doll. Akua cared for the doll as if it was her own baby and carried it around with her everywhere. Other people in the village started calling the doll Akua'ba, which means "Akua's child". However, Akua then soon became pregnant and her daughter grew up with the doll.

Magical dolls feature in folk magic practises all over the world. Although people often think they are primarily used for curses, in fact magical dolls are often used as part of helpful spells - as in this example.

I will be doing a free launch event for my book Pagan Portals – Poppets and Magical Dolls at Treadwell’s Books in London on July 14. If you want to pop along, you can reserve a place here: https://www.treadwells-london.com/event/signing-poppets-and-magical-dolls/

You can also view the book at publisher Moon Books’ website: http://www.moon-books.net/books/pagan-portals-poppets-magical-dolls

The Museum of Childhood is at Cambridge Heath Rd, London, E2 9PA. You can visit the website here: https://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/

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Niina Niskanen said...

This sounds so interesting. I´m really fascinated by African traditions. I think I´ll need to add your book to my ever-growing reading list. Do you know the Russian story of Vasilisa the beautiful and Baba Yaga? girl´s doll has a big role in the fairytale.

Badwitch said...

Oh yes, the story of Vasilisa the Beautiful was a big inspiration to me when writing Pagan Portals - Poppets and Magical Dolls. I retell the tale in my book and also offer a spell to empower your own helper doll, ideally using a much-loved toy from your own childhood that you have kept.