Found among the Anyi sub-group of the Akan (in the towns of Nzima, Krinjabo and Sanwi), mma figures are idealised and stylised depictions of deceased Akan royalty, chiefs, priests and other royal attendants. Sources state that when a member of royalty passed away, a mma figure was created to hold the soul of the deceased. These figures were then placed in mmaso (meaning 'place of the mma') shrines surrounded by mma figures of attendants, including musicians and priests, to entertain the dead in the afterlife. A single mmaso shrine can hold several generations of mma figures of leaders and chiefs and is usually the focal point for annual celebrations to commemorate past royal ancestors.
According to Alisa Lagamma, "before the figures are placed in the mmaso, the current queen mother addresses the deceased with the invocation: Today we say our final goodbyes to you. Come, come and be incarnate in your mma so we can accompany you. Let no harm come to those who are here to sing your praises and cary you to your final resting place".
For more, see the UIMA Art & Life in Africa article HERE on Akan mma traditions.
Common features among all mma:
Sub-type variations (Hornblower - Attendant):