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.
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.
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. 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.
They are both holding sticks in their hands (man: left; woman: right).
Looking at the clothes, they remind me more of English garden gnomes rather than any of the pictures I have found of the Kenyan tribes. The material used to cover the front of the body is not even like the Kenyan khanga. It would be nice to know where these dolls actually originated and what they represent.
Source(s) of information
See Kenya: General Information