Black Dolls From Around the World - Africa

Black Dolls From Around the World - Africa

Black Doll Enthusiast

Black dolls are universal and loved around the world.  Since I was unable to include black dolls from other countries or continents in my Moments in Black Doll History blog entries in February, I will do that this month intermixed with other black-doll musings. 

This post is dedicated to dolls from various regions of the continent of Africa. Typically, dolls from Africa are not considered playthings. They are used there for rituals and educational purposes. I have incorporated a few dolls from Africa in my collection and know a few fellow doll enthusiasts who have done the same.

Dolls from Kenya made of cloth, felt, yarn wear authentic Kenyan fabric clothing and have paper hang tags.

A variety of Ndebele dolls made in South Africa by members of the Ndebele Tribe, photograph courtesy of Bonnie Lewis

Based on their beading, dress, and other decorative accoutrements, Ndebele dolls have different meanings and ritualistic usages.  Read more about South African Ndebele dolls here.

Swazi doll with baby (front and back views), photograph courtesy of Ruth Manning

The above Swazi doll with baby is made of brown felt and wears an authentic African dress typical of that worn by the Swazi people of south-east South Africa.

Xhosa doll fromTranskei, South Africa, photograph courtesy of Bonnie Lewis

Similar to the Swazi doll with baby, the Xhosa doll above is also made of brown felt and likewise has painted facial features.  It is representative of and made by the Transkei people who primarily live in the Eastern Cape area of South Africa.  Transkei means, the area beyond the Kei River.

Four Ashanti Akua'ba Dolls (Fertility Dolls) from West Africa

Typically used to promote fertility; they are NOT used for that in my collection.  Read more about Ashanti Akua'ba dolls  here.

Ghanaian Woman with Baby

The Ghanaian Woman with Baby doll is made of cloth over cardboard-like foam.  Baby is inside a pouch on woman's back.  Both have hand painted features.  Imprinted on the back of baby's pouch are the words:  HARMONIE de Woodin.  The doll was made in Ghana, imported to the US by Jokae's African American Books+, Dallas, Texas. 

Senegalese Pocket Dolls handmade in Senegal using authentic Senegalese fabrics

These are just a few dolls made in Africa.  According to Elisabeth L. Cameron and Doran H. Ross in Isn't S/he a Doll? Play and Ritual in African Sculpture, page 11 (1996 Regents of the University of California),

"While the average parent views these figures as relatively inconsequential objects, it is becoming increasingly clear to social scientists that they can be active in establishing value systems and constructing identities."  

A thorough exploration of African dolls is covered in Cameron's book, the cover of which is pictured above.

Do you have dolls and/or images of dolls made in Africa that differ from these? 

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