Friday, March 06, 2015

The History Of Faceless Dolls - Updated February 2015 - Part XVIIII - The Ruth E. Aten World Doll Collection: Americas

The Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University is, according to their website, " a leading center for the worldwide study of vernacular arts, and of the historical, cultural and social contexts in which these arts are embedded. The home to two closely aligned disciplines with a deep shared history at IU, the department has a distinguished history and a bright future in the areas of research, teaching, public outreach and community service."

One of the items in their collection is The Ruth E. Aten World Doll Collection: Americas.  It is a collection of dolls from Latin America, the Carribean, Central America, North America and South America.

Most of the dolls in her collection have faces, but there were several that didn't. It is an incedible collection to see.  If you would like to view The Ruth E. Aten World Doll Collection: Americas collection pleaser click here.

Here's a few of the faceless dolls from her doll collection with some of the information on each doll:

NAmer41. U.S.A. Colonial Clothespin Doll

6” Small doll made of clothespins and dressed in colonial attire with a calico print dress, bonnet and white rickrack trim apron.

Making dolls out of clothespins was a popular early form of doll making.

Given by Ruth Aten. 1999

NAmer40. Eagle, Alaska, U.S.A.. Alaskan Mother and Baby 

8” Handmade stuffed doll of mother and baby, flowered cotton outfit with fur trim, sculptured head with beaded eyes.

Tag: “This symbol is your guarantee that this is a genuine article, made in Alaska, handcrafted by an Alaska resident artist or craftsman.

Doll was made by Sharon Hamilton, a resident of Eagle, Alaska. Eagle is a small isolated village in Alaska where they survive the winters by growing and gathering food from the land.

As a resident said, “Here we prefer eating bears that lived in the woods and ate berries to bears that ate fish from a stream or river. Bears that live on berries are sweeter and not fishy tasting; they’re pre-marinated.”

Purchased by Ruth Aten in Eagle, Alaska. 2005

NAmer22. Savannah, Georgia, U.S.A. Burlap Mother and Daughter 

10" Burlap sewn and molded mother and daughter.

Mother is braiding daughter’s hair.

Purchased in an arts and craft store in Savannah by Ruth Aten.

Tag: “Village Weavers”. 2002

NAmer46. U.S.A. Woven Straw Doll

7” Woven straw doll in basket weave design with hat and carrying a basket with silk flowers.

NAmer50. U.S.A.. Iroquois Corn Husk Mother and Baby

11” Corn Husk Iroquois Doll holding baby wrapped in red Indian calico print cloth. Mother has black yarn hair. She has a beaded necklace and is holding a authentic woven basket.

Accompanying card: “Legend of “No Face” Doll.There’s an old Iroquois story that says the first original cornhusk doll walked the earth with a beautiful face. As the years went by she became more and more enamored with her loveliness.  Instead of tending to her chores, she spent her days gazing longingly and lovingly at her beautiful reflection in the ponds and rivers. Eventually the legend states that the owl took her face away as punishment for her idleness and vanity. A doll with no face also gives children a chance to use their imagination. These dolls were originally made just for children to play with.  But today they are valued as collectibles and there is no right or wrong way to make a cornhusk doll. Whatever the doll maker creates today is just as valid as the cornhusk dolls of centuries past. YAWAKO, Mary Lee Prescott, Oneida Nation, Roll #6307”.

Given by John Johnson (faculty) 2006. John is part Cherokee and therefore very interested in their culture. He purchased this doll as a Christmas present that included a card: “Corn dollies are very traditional in Indian country.  I bought this one from the woman who made it. And by the way, the Iroquois nation are our (the Cherokees) first cousins. Even the miniature basket is woven correctly!”

NAmer52. Indiana, U.S.A.  Amish Doll

17” Handmade, no face, Amish doll. Doll is dressed in traditional clothes of a plain cotton woven dress and pantaloons and a black bonnet and black shoes.

This is a typical no face Amish doll. There are many theories of why Amish do not allow faces on dolls, photographs of themselves, or mirrors in their homes, but the most popular belief is that these images center on pride and vain and violates the Biblical commandment, “Thou shalt not make unto thyself a graven image”.

Given by Warren Roberts and John Johnson (faculty). Warren and John would regularly attend flea markets together in search of collectable baskets, tools, and ratchets, and they purchased this doll at one of those events. 1990s

NAmer55. Amish Acres, Indiana, U.S.A.  Amish Quilter.

16” Handmade stuffed no face Amish girl quilting. Doll is dressed in traditional Amish outfit with plain blue dress, off-white pinafore and pantaloons and a black bonnet and scissors on a cord around her neck. In one hand she is holding a quilted piece in a quilting frame and in the other hand is a basket of quilting supplies with a heart: “Rebecca’s Amish Quilts”.

Written on her back: “Linda Brunt 93. Amish women and girls are noted for their lovely homemade quilts and are sold in Amish communities as a source of income.

Ruth Aten purchased the doll on a trip to Amish Acres, Indiana. 1994

NAmer2. U.S.A. Corn Husk Doll with Churn

5 ½” Corn husk female doll with fiber hair, hand on hip, and holding a churn.

Given by Linda Adams (student).

Linda wrote, “Dear Ruth, I brought you this corn-shuck doll from Berea, Kentucky. It was made by the Richey family.”

NAmer4. Virginia, U.S.A.  Corn Husk Doll Carrying Basket of Flowers

7½” Made of corn husks, straw hat, brown fiber hair, blue apron, carrying a basket with straw flowers.

Handmade by Staynelle Marshall.

Given by Patricia Sawin (student)

The The Ruth E. Aten World Doll Collection: Americasis a wonderful doll collection to see. If you would like to see the rest of the dolls in this collection please click here. 

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