Fali Fertility Doll - Large Blue

Fali Fertility Doll - Large Blue


These brightly colored beaded dolls are made by the Fali, a group of people living in Northern Cameroon in central Africa. The name Fali comes from a Fulani word meaning “perched,” and refers to the Fali’s family compounds which are found on mountainsides. They have adapted to living on the edges of the mountains such that their homes and granaries  resemble part of the hillside.

 The Fali are a patrilineal society with no centralized political system. They are farmers who cultivate peanuts, millet, squash, tobacco, chickpeas, okra and cotton, and Fali women are known for their pottery and hand woven cotton fabrics. They also make masks and dolls, some of which are seen here. 

These are fertility dolls, crafted by a betrothed man to give to his fiancé. She will then wear it in a baby carrier on her back until their own child is born. At this point, the doll will be carefully stored away. The maker will start with a metal, wood, and leather base, forming the frame of the body. Decorative beading will then be added, and the maker will assign the doll the gender he wishes their future child will have. This doll serves as a symbol of the couple’s commitment to marriage and their future first born child.  

13" x 4"