This is a vintage disk-headed Akua'ba (Akwaba or Akuba) wooden fertility figure, They would have been consecrated by a priest and carried by women hoping to conceive. They were used by the Akan people of Ghana.
Traditionally, these dolls are carried on the back of women either hoping for a child or to ensure the attractiveness of the child being carried. When not in active use, the figure would be ritually washed and cared for.
The flat, disk-like head references their ideal of feminine beauty of a round face and wide forehead. The rings on the figure's neck are a standard convention for rolls of fat, a sign of beauty, health, and prosperity. My figure has two simple out-stretched arms - and below are two breasts. Her over-sized head symbolizes intelligence; her round-shaped face is considered beautiful, her fat neck is for prosperity and the out-stretched arms are a sign of generosity. There is a thin panel of engraved designs is on the back of my figure's head. Such designs were believed to be a protective device against witchcraft.
This is a very fine example for display with lots of carefully observed details - and a patina of age. It is not a modern tourist piece and on a stylistic basis - it looks like it dates to the first half of the 20th century.
It is a very large size for this type of doll - measuring just over 21 inches in height (54 cm). She is finely carved with great attention to detail. I love her beautiful silvered headdress. One of the most unusual details are the two little heads or people acting as supports to each side of the figure - I have never seen another one of these figures with these additions - so quite a rare feature. Perhaps the original owner of this figurine had or wanted twins?
The wood has a fine patina of age - with some rubbing to raised areas - which is consistent with the sculpture being handled and touched over a good number of years.
Sadly - this lovely African sculpture will be for posting to the UK only.