Africa is a continent full of legends, mysteries, and symbolic meanings. The Ashanti doll from from Ghana is one of many unique and prevailing symbols. This doll represents fertility and good luck and is even used by young girls as a way to prepare for motherhood.
The Legend of the Ashanti Doll
Legend has it that the bearer of an ‘Akuaba’ fertility doll will give birth to a beautiful child that is 24 inches long. Traditionally a woman would wear the doll on her back hoping to conceive a child or in hopes that her current child would be born healthy. In some villages, a priest will give the doll to a young woman after conducting specific fertility rites. More often, the mother who has used the fertility doll will hand it down to her daughter. In preparation for motherhood they will wash the dolls, carry them on their backs, put them to bed, dress, and even “feed” them.
The Symbolism of the Ashanti Features
The round head of the Ashanti doll is symbolic of the feminine womb. It also is considered by some to be symbolic of a moon goddess. A high forehead is a symbol of beauty, the neck ring depicts creases caused by fat, which is an indication of health. The body of the fertility doll is shaped like a cross and is similar to the Kamitic symbol known as the Djed, which according to Egyptian legend is the backbone of the God Ausar. In ancient spiritual teachings, Ausar possesses great power because his emotions and thoughts are stable and unwavering.
A Lasting Tradition
For many ages fertility dolls have stood the test of time. While in Western culture these dolls have come to represent good luck and a hand-craft piece of African artwork, in Africa these dolls have a very important place dating back many centuries.
Where To Get Your Own Ashanti Doll
You can own your own hand-crafted Kenyan Ashanti dolls by clicking here.
The powerful and legendary Maasai people group of Africa is one of the most famous groups in African culture. While they are more commonly associated with Kenya, they are also located in Tanzania. They are known for their highly-skilled warriors and their cattle-herding abilities. In fact, in Maasai culture, a man’s wealth is measured in terms of cattle and children. A herd of 50 cattle is a respectable amount, and the more children the better!
Masks like the one shown below were historically used in traditional tribal ceremonies to scare opponenets of the Maasai people. This mask shows the characteristic stretching of the earlobes which is common among the Maasai. Because the Maasai are nomadic, they don’t have the ancestor cults that many African people groups do. They don’t hold any beliefs in survival after death – which is one of the reasons they do not bury their dead. In many African cultures, masks are used in rituals to honor the ancestors, but in Maasai culture the masks were historically worn in traditional ceremonies including celebrations, initiations, crop harvests, and war preparations. The masks often represented the spirits of mythological beings, animals, or spirits.
In long days past, during ceremonies, a tribal member of the Maasai people would enter a deep trance and deliver a message from the spirit in grunts, broken sentences, or partial phrases. An elder or wise man from the group usually served as an interpreter. Today, these types of ceremonies are often only practiced for tourists as modernism has done away with a lot of the traditional practices. The masks are a way for the Maasai people to make an income and are, for now, mainly used to sell to tourists to provide a livelihood for the carver or artisan.
Traditional print, or dashiki style clothing is becoming increasingly popular this year, and it’s not hard to see why! From vibrant colors to an exotic design this style is a great way to bring attention to your African heritage. But what does this design mean? Is there any significance to this popular print? Let’s find out! Read more
The April Wholesale Flier is now available to view and download. With fresh spring fashions, fun new accessories, and back in stock favorites–this 8 page flier is full of ideas to help boost your business. Click here to have the first look at the 33 new items in stock!
Click here to view and download the April 2016 wholesale flier.
Need to show your customers? Just download the retail or no price version to send to your customers: Click here for the retail flier. Click here for flier with no prices.
Whether you love to wear mudcloth or decorate and craft with it, mudcloth is surely one of the most intriguing African fabrics. Often referred to as bogalonfini in Africa, this cloth is made using a time-consuming process that involves weaving, dyeing, bleaching, washing, drying, and repeating the process till the cloth is perfect. The amazing thing about mudcloth is that it isn’t just another pretty fabric – each symbol has a meaning and each piece tells a story. Ready to find out more? Check out these two new featurettes on mudcloth fashions and the meaning and making of mudcloth.
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Orange in Africa symbolizes a lot of different virtues and characteristics, which makes it an especially fun color to wear! We hope you enjoy this featurette that talks about the meaning of orange in African fashions along with some eye-catching orange Afrocentric styles. Let us know what you think and feel free to share!
In Africa, each color has a specific meaning and symbolism. Sometimes the meanings vary from region to region, other times the meaning remains the same throughout the continent. This new featurette talks about black and what this color choice symbolizes in Africa. We hope you enjoy this! Please let us know your thoughts and comments!
Kente Cloth has an amazing symbolism and history throughout Africa. It’s no wonder that it is one of the most popular accents to wear for Black History Month! We hope you enjoy this new featurette which talks about the meaning of the fabric and the symbolism of each color!