Kenya: Wooden man and woman

Front view
Front view

General description These are a stylised man and woman made of wood, string and possibly horsehair.

Dimensions Woman: 14 x 8 x 8 cm; man 15 x 8 x 6 cm

Date when acquired 1990s

Original Date Unknown

Source From German acquaintances who had been given the dolls by a family member who had sometime before been to Kenya.


Back view
Back view


The body and head of both the man and woman are carved from a single piece of wood. Instead of legs and feet they have a round base. Their arms are made of string and their eyes are formed by black beads. The nose is a round knob of wood.

Their hair is made of a mink-coloured horsehair. The woman has a bushy fringe and a long plait, while the man has a large mop of hair with a cow-lick standing up from his forehead. The man also has a moustache made of the same type of hair with a beard made of a softer hair type going from grey to a light brown.

Both the man and the woman have a piece of string forming the eyebrows which are joined above the nose.

Side view of man
Side view of man showing his cowlick fringe



Both are naked apart from a piece of felt covering the front of the body held in place by a piece of string around the waist , typical of the apron-like garments wore by the indigenous peoples of this area of the world. The man’s felt is green, while the woman’s is grey with a green patch (pocket?) on the lower left side. The man’s felt is square-cut at the top and bottom, while the woman’s is heart-shaped at the top and rounded at the bottom.

The woman is wearing a green felt scarf tied under her chin.



Side view of woman
Side view of woman


They are both holding sticks in their hands (man: left; woman: right), which may represent the digging sticks used by the indigenous population for digging out roots, etc.


Background information

Looking at these dolls, they at first reminded me more of English garden gnomes rather than any of the pictures I had found of the Kenyan tribes. However, the aprons used to cover the front of the lower body is like that reported to be used by the really ancient peoples indigenous to this area.


Source(s) of information

See Kenya: General Information


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