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Dowayo; Northern Cameroon

Artwork Details

20th century
Dowayo; Northern Cameroon
wood, beads, string, and human hair
11 in x 4 15/16 in x 2 ¾ in (27.94 cm x 12.54 cm x 6.99 cm)
Gift of Dr. James and Vivian Curtis

On Display

Not currently on display


Subject Matter:

This figure was most likely made by the Dowayo peoples of Cameroon—also called Namchi or Namji. Blacksmiths created wooden dolls for women who had trouble conceiving; the doll was then decorated with beads to resemble a newly initiated woman. As a symbol of potential motherhood, women would treat the doll as a real child until she became pregnant.

References Cited:
Cameron, Elisabeth L. 1997. “In Search of Children: Dolls and Agency in Africa.” African Arts, Vol. 30, No. 2: pp. 18-33, 93.

Physical Description:

Carved wooden human figure with a columnar body and limbs. The body is decorated with strands of beads, primarily red, white, and purple. The neck and ankles have multiple strands of yellow beads while one wrist has a metal bracelet. The top of the figure is decorated with human hair. 

Usage Rights:

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