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.
Related Themes and Topics
Glossary: human hair
used to define human remains as part of the NMSI/SMG 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.