Fali Beaded Twin Dolls, Cameroon
Wood, West African coins, red, black, white, blue glass beads, fiber, leather, string
height 5 1/4in (13.3cm)
Private Collection, New York
Field research indicates that among the Kirdi of Cameroon, when a man decides to marry, he commissions a doll to be made from a carved wood base and embellishes it with colorful beads, shells, metal pieces and other small objects. The doll represents the desired gender of his future child and is a symbol of the marriage commitment. He presents the betrothal doll to his intended bride, who cares for it, and wears it strapped on her back or at her waist as she would her child and as a testament to her devotion to her husband to be. (For a field photograph, see Fisher, 1987, p. 134). After the arrival of the child, the mother carefully stores the doll away along with her precious possessions.
This doll represents desired twins, possibly a male and female. A leather amulet pack offers protection from negative forces and to ensure a healthy and productive life.