Figure (akua ba)

mid-20th century; 1950–2000
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Ghana


Overall: 30.2 x 11 x 5.5 (11 7/8 x 2 3/16 in.) Lender Accessory (base): 2.2 x 6.7 x 6.2 cm (7/8 x 2 5/8 x 2 7/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Wood, pigment

Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art



This nicely carved mid-twentieth-century piece displays a minimalist cylindrical torso with small breasts and horizontal arms; a ringed, elongated neck; and a disk-like head whose compressed facial features include arched eyebrows over almond-shaped eyes. Carried by women like babies on their back and kept in shrines, these figures ensure that a woman bears beautiful and healthy children.


Small string label attached to base: "27 McM"; label on underside of base: "87.(259)"; label on underside of base: "Ashanti doll"


1970s, sold by Jacqueline Nicaud of the Galerie Burgui, Paris, to Geneviève McMillan (b. 1922 - d. 2008), Cambridge, MA; 2008, to the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation, Cambridge; 2009, gift of the Geneviève McMillan and Reba Stewart Foundation to the MFA. (Accession Date: June 17, 2009)

Credit Line

Gift of Geneviève McMillan in memory of Reba Stewart