Fertility doll

Turkana fertility doll

The Turkana call these wooden dolls apese. Some are made for girls to play with, but others are used as fertility charms or symbols, which a childless couple would keep under their bed in the hope that it would induce conception. The one in this photo, I think, represents a marriageable daughter wearing an apron. The style is very abstract, the face flat and angular, its mask-like features showing no expression of individuality or emotion. The arms are very thin and were never given hands. In contrast the breasts and belly have been emphasized. When the daughter marries and leaves the house, the doll is symbolically thrown away. Or, as in this case, sold to me at Eliye Springs.

Credit: photo copyright © Jens Finke, 1998.

visit bluegecko.org

Traditional Music & Cultures of Kenya
Copyright Jens Finke, 2000-2003

also by Jens Finke
Chasing the Lizard's Tail - across the Sahara by bicycle
Planosphere.com - fine art photography