A bold mixture of Japanese, Cameroonian and Ghanian crafts, designer Noumbissi Constantin creates these adorable toys.

Culture is what links individuals to one another to create their identity. As a designer, I’m really interested in what Africa, Europe and Asia can teach me and I’m always amazed to notice that these different cultures have a lot in common. That’s how Aku•Ako dolls were born !

– Noumbissi Constatin


Akuaba are wooden ritual fertility dolls from Ghana and nearby areas. According to the legend, Akuaba doll comes from the story of a woman named Akua who could not get pregnant and went to a priest and commissioned the carving of a small wooden doll. She carried and cared for the doll as if it were her own child, feeding it, bathing it and so on. Soon the people in the village started calling it “Akuaba” (Akua’s child). She soon became pregnant and her daughter grew up with the doll.

Kokeshi dolls have been made for 150 years, and are from Northern Honshū, the main island of Japan. They were originally made as toys for the farmers’ children. They have no arms or legs, but a large head and cylindrical body, representing little girls. From a simple toy, it has now become a famous Japanese craft, and now an established souvenir for tourists.




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