Mossi Fertility Doll – BIGA – Burkina Faso
20th century. Wood, glass beads, cowrie shell cm. 32,0 high (12.6″). gr. 322,1 (11.36 oz.).
These typical, abstract fertility dolls, called “Biga”, are worn by the women of the Mossi in their garments when they wish for children. When a child is born, the ‘biga’ dolls are either placed on house altars, or passed on to the next generation, or even given to the girls as a toy.
Fertility dolls are very common among some tribes in Africa. Traditionally and culturally, they serve as objects for good omen particularly in conceiving among women. These dolls uniquely vary according to the tribe they are coming from and the purposes they serve.
African dolls across the continent are created for young girls to play with and as a charm to ensure fertility in women. Their shape and costume vary according to region and custom. Frequently dolls are handed down from mother to daughter.
When the doll concept is considered in the context of African culture, they are usually not children’s playthings, but rather objects that are laden with ritual and religious associations within the community. African dolls are used to teach, and entertain. They are supernatural intermediaries and they are manipulated for ritual purposes. Each of these dolls is unique because they are handmade and are traditionally handed down through generations.
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