Child Figures of Southern Angola
Fertility Dolls - Angola
Even before the advent of civilization, humans have made images of themselves from material found in their environment, either as drawing on cave walls or as figurines made of wood or clay. These dolls or idols were used as religious or magical icons.
Angolan dolls occur over a vast semi-desert region inhabited by the Donguena, Evale, Hakawama, Himba, Humbe, Kwanyama, Mukubal, Mwila, Ndimba, Ngambwe, Ovambo and Zemba peoples. Dolls are known as "children" and have fertility connotations in virtually all local languages and dialects. Ie. kana, ounona, o'vilolo and o’jilolo.
Child figures are prized possessions and are always well looked after. In the event of a fire in the homestead, the doll will be the first thing the inhabitant attempts to save. If an older woman has several daughters, her doll is passed onto the eldest.
Dolls play a very important role with young girls and their future marriage. When a girl who owns a doll is engaged, her husband-to-be gives the doll a name. From then on, the doll is considered to be the couple’s child, and when their first child is born, it is given the same name as the doll. From this, her doll is likened to a fertility figure.
The following images were largely taken by collector - photographer Neil Munro, as recently as September 2006.
Click thumbs for larger images.
What is particularly remarkable about Angolan dolls is their intricate adornment, often depicted in drawings. Little change to style or form has taken place, with regards to the elaborate coiffures they displayed.
Wooden curiosity dolls evolved from interaction with Europeans.
The doll on the left was collected by J. R. Ivy during the 1940's. The two examples in the centre were re-discovered in Australia and likely date to the early 1900's.. Examples by The Warrior carver (right) are represented at the National Museum of Finland and the Swakopmund Museum, Namibia - circa 1920.
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