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Highlights: African Art

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Image of Female Doll

Ambo or Ovambo Peoples

Female Doll

20th century

Object Type: Sculpture
Creation Place: Africa
12 in. x Diam: 5 in. (30.48 cm x 12.7 cm)
Medium and Support: Wood, glass beads, and animal hide
Accession Number: 2013.0017.0001

Credit Line: Gift of Dileep and Martha Mehta

Ambo mothers pass dolls down to daughters when the young women get married. At her wedding, the bride carries the doll in her belt, pressed close to her womb to hasten conception. Her husband names the doll as though it were a child, and that name is given to their firstborn. This doll is carved in wood with a spherical head, round eyes, a smiling mouth, and an upturned nose. The realism of the face is balanced by the abstracted body below. The long neck is covered with beads, some of which have been soiled by years of handling.

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