Object of the day: an early 19th century Fante doll from Ghana

Fante doll akuaba Ghana Boulogne sur mer

Fante doll Ghana Boulogne-sur-mer 1
























Above a Fante doll I photographed last week at the Boulogne-sur-Mer Museum (on which more later this week). According to its label, it was donated to the museum by M. Hamilton in 1838 – which probably makes it the earliest collected example known. It’s always suprising how old specific sculptural traditions can be. The iconography of dolls collected 100 years later barely changed. What differentiates these doll from 20th century examples is the addition of three conical packages inserted into the wood at the top (one lost). The same insertions can be noticed on two dolls acquired by the Berlin Ethnologisches Museum (SMPK) from Schänker in 1896 (cf. Kurt Krieger’s Westafrikanische Plastik, vol. II, 1969: pp. 28-29, #46 & #48). The facial features of this doll bear a remarkable resemblance to Vuvi masks of Gabon.