Namchi/Namji dolls are carved from African Rosewood, a legume tree native to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. A single block of African Rosewood wood is hand carved into a geometric shape and decorated with multi coloured beads, metals, fibre, cowrie shells, coins, and even leather. Each doll is carved with a unique stature and facial expression. Unadorned dolls made by blacksmiths are played with by young children.
Namji Dolls are fertility dolls given to brides during a wedding ceremony. The Namji believe that these fertility dolls are made with potent charms that enhance the bride’s fertility, ward off evil spirits that cause infertility and difficult labour. They also believe the dolls prevent miscarriage and promote safe delivery of babies.
The bride carries the doll as a good luck charm anywhere she goes, in her purse or clothe. Once her wish is granted and she has a child, the doll is placed on the family altar or passed down to her daughter.