The Story Behind Our Namji Dolls
Dolls have long been a treasured plaything, talisman and display piece across both history and cultures. From Asia to Africa, North and South America, many iterations of the doll have been cherished over centuries – if not millennia- and used to teach care and develop empathy in children.
Today we’ll look at the beautiful dolls created by the The Namji people of Cameroon. These stunning dolls are hand-carved from African rosewood. Each is carved from a single piece of timber. They’re complete once they’re adorned with seed beads, leather strips, coins, metal pieces and cowrie shells. It’s said that these decorative trinkets is what gives each doll protective charms.
It’s quite striking to see the level of detail that goes into creating each one. Each is unique and chock full of personality. I simply love their expressions.
Traditionally these dolls are fertility talisman, presented to brides at their wedding. Women carry them around as they would babies, until they conceive. They are also passed down to girls where they become a very special toy. There are also masculine versions of these Namji dolls, gifted to men with the same intention to help inspire fertility.
We have a variety of Namji dolls, both artifacts and new versions based on traditional techniques. They are a beautiful table top display, either on their own or grouped together. We work with a master carver in Cameroon who does wonderful work. If you’re looking to add one of these special pieces to your interior, be in touch. We can have one created just for you if we don’t have one on hand that suits your fancy.
There really is something special about dolls and these in particular. They conjure up the magic of childhood, they carry a strong cultural voice and they are truly beautiful.