Doll used in Stillbirth Ceremony in Gambia, c.1930-50
This doll is made of baked mud with textiles and human hair. It is a replica of one made in a Gambian Village for women who had had stillbirths. The doll is treated as a live child. It is baptised on the eighth day, when a feast is held. In many West African medical traditions, stillbirth is attributed to evil forces or spirits. It requires a range of healing practices, some dating back thousands of years.