All About Namji Dolls

All About Namji Dolls

Throughout a wide variety of cultures in Africa you can find beautiful handcrafted dolls. However, the concept is slightly different from our Western view of dolls, although often gifted to girls at a young age, they are not children's playthings, but rather objects that are laden with ritual and religious associations meant to teach, entertain, and are symbolically collected by families and passed down through generations. 

#JointheJourney with us to Western Africa as we learn more about the Namji Doll...

Of all the many dolls and collectible figurines across Africa with similar cultural meaning and significance, the dolls of the Namji tribe of modern-day, northern Cameroon in West Africa, have remained uniquely popular over decades and centuries and become treasured across the globe. They are considered by collectors to be among the most beautiful, whimsical and endearing designs, and they continue to have a significant and broad appeal today. 

 Traditionally Namji dolls have been given to young girls that they keep, care for, and decorate as prized possessions throughout their childhood, to help young girls learn the responsibilities and caregiving associated with motherhood and create beloved possessions that take on different meanings at different times in their lives.

These beloved dolls, also called Dowayo Dolls, are carved from local African Rosewood and decorated with multicolored beads, metals, shells, coins, and leather and cloth adornments, making each one a unique piece of art. As the dolls are passed from grandmother to mother to daughter, each caretaker will add their own unique elements of style and amulets to the doll, so that their unique familial significance only grows over time.

As Namji dolls are passed down through generations, they gain further significance as symbolic gifts marking major life milestones, sometimes even offered to make marriage proposals, and are often gifted to brides on their wedding day by family members of the bride and by her new inlaws. The dolls are believed to be symbols of good fortune and fertility that will bless a new bride and her union, and many believe that the more Namji dolls a young bride collects, as a family's collection grows from generation to generation, the more fortune the young couple will be granted as they embark on their new lives together and start a family.  

Discover our full namji doll collection