Wood, beads, bone, libations.
12″ Tall (30.48 cm)
Private Estate Collection – California, USA.
An old Namji Dowayo Doll from Cameroon. These Namji Dolls, known as Dowayo, are fertility dolls that are gifted to brides during a wedding ceremony. The Namji believe that these Dowayo fertility dolls that are made with fetish materials to enhance the bride’s fertility, ward off evil spirits that cause infertility and difficult labour. They also believe the dolls prevent miscarriage and promote safe delivery of babies.
The bride carries the Dowayo doll as a good luck charm anywhere she goes, in her purse or clothing. Once her wish is granted and she has a child, the doll is placed on the family altar or passed down to her daughter.
The Namji also give Dowayo dolls to young girls for role play. Young girls carry the dolls strapped on their backs and treat the dolls like their babies; feeding them, bathing them, dressing them in clothes, and sleeping with them.The girls are allowed to play with these dolls even till puberty. It is believed that such role-play greatly encourages girls to prepare for their future roles as mothers.
Namji Dowayo dolls can also be used to make marriage proposals. A man gifts a doll to the girl he wants to marry and if she accepts it, it means she accepts his proposal. She then carries the doll around as a fertility doll. As soon as she has a child, she bequeaths the doll to her daughter.