Doll, used in stillbirth ceremony, Gambia, West Africa, 1930-1950
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. The doll was donated by Sister Mary M Larrett to the Wellcome collections. She was employed at the West African Council for Medical Research Laboratories at Bathurst, Gambia, and later at Lagos in Nigeria.
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Glossary: human hair
used to define human remains as part of the NMSI human remains policy (from April 2007); Other terms used are 'blood' and 'human remains'
Glossary: traditional medicine
Used in the West for sets of health beliefs and practices that developed within the culture of a particular ethnic or geographic group of people, distinct from modern Western medicine. Commonly includes herbal and homeopathic remedies, religious or spiritual ritual, and an holistic approach to patients.
A branch of medicine dealing with the care of women. This care occurs during pregnancy, childbirth, and the period of recovery from childbirth.