Comb (duafe)

20th century, 1950–2000
Artist Unidentified

Object Place: Ghana


Overall: 27.5 x 14 cm (10 13/16 x 5 1/2 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Africa and Oceania, Contemporary Art, Jewelry


Hair ornaments

The Asante, many of their neighbors in Ghana, and the Baule in Côte d’Ivoire, belong to the Akan peoples. All share similar languages, cultural traits, and artistic forms. Akan carvers’ repertoire included common items such as wooden combs (duafe) for women, used both to untangle hair and hold extravagant coiffures in place. The combs take many shapes and present a microcosm of Akan symbolism. This piece displays delicate openwork motifs, such as stools and hearts, and intricately incised surface decoration.


1970s, purchased in Paris by 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