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National costume dolls

Dolls from around the world

Cuba: Bolero (rumba) dancers

Front view
Front view

General description: This couple of dancers are wearing flamboyant “rumba” costumes, more for the stage rather than standard party wear. The word “bolero” has been written under the man’s stand, so maybe they are dancing a Cuban bolero (usually wrongly called rumba)

Dimensions: Woman: 24 x 14 x 17 cm, Man: 24 x 14 x 9 cm

Date when acquired: 2016

Original Date: Unknown

Source: “I ♥ Cuba” is written on a sticker placed on the base of both of the dolls, so I presume they originate from Cuba.

Flea market in Göttingen. Present from Aneta.

 

Back view
Back view

Body

Plastic with fixed limbs and painted facial features. They are both affixed to a thin square (woman) or oblong (man) piece of plastic to help them stand.

The man has thick black hair in a short back and sides.

The woman’s black hair is mainly hidden under her scarf, but she has a puffed up fringe.

 

Female dancer - side view showing the swing of her skirt
Female dancer – side view showing the swing of her skirt

Clothing

The woman‘s bata cubana ensemble is not a dress but consists of a long flamenco-style skirt cut low on her hips and a bustier. The flounces of the skirt are striped in red, yellow, pink, blue, green, brown, with each thin stripe separated by a strip of see-through material. The basic material of the skirt is pink as is the belt around her hips. The belt is embroidered with a geometrical pattern in silver thread. At the back of her belt is a large bow with long ribbons. She is also wearing a cropped pink bustier which leaves the middle part of her torso free. The bustier has cape sleeves made of two flounces of the same material used for the skirt. On her head is a scarf wrapped tightly around her head and tied at the front with a large bow. It is of the same material as the skirt flounces.She is holding a white cotton shawl in her left hand that is swirled around her hips, giving the impression of movement. On her feet are white high-heeled court shoes.

She is holding a white cotton shawl in her left hand that is swirled around her hips, giving the impression of movement. On her feet are white high-heeled court shoes.

The man is wearing a pair of narrow high-waisted white cotton trousers. He has on a  rumba shirt whose body is made of black velvet and is decorated with red braid down the front. The braid is embroidered in a geometric design with silver thread. The sleeves have ruffles from shoulder to wrist. Each ruffle is a single colour but each one varies in colour from red, yellow, lilac, blue, pink and white. He has a red scarf around his neck. His has heel-less white shoes with pointed toes.

 

Male dancer - side view
Male dancer – side view

Accessories

The woman has a white bead necklace around her neck, gold drop earrings and broad gold bracelets.

The man had maracas (aka rumba shakers) in his hands though the right one is missing.

 

Background information

The Cuban bolero tradition originated in Santiago de Cuba in the last quarter of the 19th century; it does not owe its origin to the Spanish music and song of the same name. The bolero was perhaps the first great Cuban musical and vocal synthesis to win universal recognition. In 2/4 time, this dance music spread to other countriesand became very popular under the name of rumba.

 

Source(s) of information

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolero

See Cuba – general information

Thailand: Yao (Mien) woman with baby

Front view
Front view

General description: This hill-tribe doll has a young baby on her back wrapped in a shawl.

Dimensions: 33 x 12 x 11 cm

Date when acquired: 2016

Original Date: Unknown but I saw I doll just like this one in Phuket town (Thailand) in December 2015.

Source: Designed by Vanda S. Mongkhong and handmade by Youthama, House of Handicrafts

Flea market in Göttingen. Present from Aneta.

 

Back view
Back view

Body

Padded wire body and limbs. The mother’s and baby’s faces are made of a plastic material with painted features. The baby’s eyes are closed showing it is sleeping peacefully. She is standing on a velvet covered square of wood.

 

View from the right
View from the right

Clothing

Her clothing and jewellery is typical of the Yao (Mien) tribe. The basic material is black cotton. The costume consists of black trousers decorated down the front with cross-stitch in a pattern of interlocking scrollwork in red, blue and green with yellow edges and the triangles between in white. Her long-sleeved tunic has long panels reaching down the front and back, though the front one is tucked up under her waistband. The sleeves have red cuffs. The tails of the waistband at the back are also embroidered with a design on the legs of the trousers. At each side of her waist are long red tassels, though the right tassel has also some black threads in it. Around her neck is the typical red ruff worn by the women of this tribe.

On her head is the black turban with its embroidered “ears” sticking up from the crown.

Her baby is wrapped in a black shawl that is embroidered in the cross-stitch scrollwork in red, green and gold with white edging.

The baby has a snug-fitting black hat on its head with a red pompom and cross-stitch embroidery around the edge.

 

View of crowns of hats - ears of the mother's hat and the pompom of the baby's
View of crowns of hats – ears of the mother’s hat and the pompom of the baby’s

Accessories

The doll has the heavy silver jewellery typical of the hill tribes of Northern Thailand. She has a large silver torque with a separate pendant at her neck slightly hidden by her ruff. Her heavy earrings are heart shaped. A double silver chain is attached to her ruff on the right and to her waist on the left, with two silver balls at each point of attachment.

She is carrying an open-weave wicket basket in her left hand and a bag woven of palm-leaf-like material in her right hand.

 

Background information

See other Yao (Mien) doll (4.8.9) and Thailand hilltribes

Tunisia: Tunisian bride

Tunisian bride
Tunisian bride

This black and white print of a young Tunisian bride wearing a fouta, blouse, veils and jewellery was removed from a 19th century book and sold at an antiques fair in Schleissheim, Munich, Germany (1993). Even though I find it sad that old books are destroyed, I fell in love with this picture of a young Tunisian bride in all her finery, looking at herself in a small hand mirror.

Tunisia: Tunisian Berber woman

Front view
Front view

General description: Tunisian Berber woman in festive clothes

Dimensions: 24 x 11 x 7 cm

Date when acquired: 1992

Original Date: 1992

Source: Hammamet, Tunisia. Present from Marcel S.

Back view
Back view

 

Body

Plastic with movable arms, rigid legs and immovable eyes. The lines where the two halves of the body, legs and arms are fused have not been smoothed down and her fingers are badly cut out. Her fingers have been painted very badly in red. Black dots and lines have been painted on her face and hands indicating most probably tattoos. Again, the art work is of very poor quality. Straggly thin long black hair hangs down her back to below her waist.

 

View from the right side
View from the right side

Clothing

She has a piece of blue silky cloth wrapped around her body in the Berber dress style and held in place with a gold belt. The bottom of the material has one wide and three narrow light blue stripes. The top of the dress is held in place by a collier consisting of two large gold triangles covering the top of her arms and shoulders. Between these is gold mesh covering her chest. Three gold circles decorate the front of the dress bodice, held in place by red or green sequins. A similar gold circle is in the middle of the gold mesh, held in place by a green sequin. The dress has long sleeves made of a white tulle just rolled around the arms and held in form by a single sequin. Her feet are bare.

Her head and hair are covered by long silky scarf in dark blue with a design of white, yellow and orange circular and oval shapes. The scarf is held in place by a broad band wrapped around forehead like a hat. It is decorated with silver sequins and with a silver leaf at the front held in place by a red sequin.

 

View of the top of the head showing how the head band is fixed over the scarf
View of the top of the head showing how the head band is fixed over the scarf

Accessories

Jewellery (see above)

 

Background information

The style of dress and tattoos of this doll indicate that she is Berber rather than Arab as the Arabs in Tunisia wear other styles of clothing and do not have facial tattoos.

This doll is typical of the poorly made national costume dolls that seemed to flood the market in the 1980s and 1990s. They were made for the tourist trade at a time when the interest in such dolls seemed to be waning and people were not willing to spend much money on them. This demise of well-made dolls saddened and saddens me. Even though this doll is so poorly made, I have kept her as she was a present (though she stands hidden at the back of my doll cupboard). When I went to Tunisia myself the year afterwards, in 1993, I looked for costume dolls and even though I was on Djerba and travelled through the centre of Tunisia, only poorly made ones were available.

 

Source(s) of information

See Tunisia – general information and Tattooing in Berber women

Tattooing in Berber women (North Africa)

celtic b-black white-01Historically, within the Amazigh (Berber) culture, women were tattooed facially. The practice was widespread before the arrival of Islam in North Africa. However, since the arrival of the Islamic faith, the belief that to alter a creation of Allah is haram (forbidden) has led to an almost complete decline in the practice. Since then, henna designs (harquus) are often used to produce the tattoo designs but on a temporary basis. These temporary adornments are usually limited to the hands and the feet, nowadays and so facial tattooing is a vanishing art.

Berber woman and child, showing the facial tattoos of the mother
Berber woman and child, showing the facial tattoos of the mother

Berber tattoos were often placed around the body openings (eyes, nose, mouth, navel and vagina) or on body surfaces perceived as vulnerable (feet and hands) as these areas were considered to require protection from bad spirits (jnoun) which may try to enter a woman’s body and possess her. Many tattoos were designed to provide protection from the evil eye. Indeed, the name for Berber tattoos is jedwel meaning talisman.

The tattoos are often relevant to rites of passage and were added at key stages of a woman’s life. The first of the facial tattoos is called siyala and is on the chin. Siyala often takes the form of a symbolic palm tree tattoo which consists of a simple straight line from the bottom of the lip to the bottom of the chin. This line would sometimes be flanked by dots representing seeds. At puberty, girls were often decorated with siyala to promote their ability to have healthy children. The second tattoo is called ghemaza and is placed between the eyebrows. This tattoo when later extended to the forehead is known as el – ayach (the lucky charm).

References

http://ethnicjewelsmagazine.com/facial-tattooing-of-berber-women-by-sarah-corbett/

http://www.fashionencyclopedia.com/fashion_costume_culture/Early-Cultures-African/Siyala.html#ixzz3ySuw74OV

Tunisia By Roslind Varghese Brown, Michael Spilling

 

Picture

Tunisia – General information

celtic b-black white-01The Republic of Tunisia is the northernmost country in Africa. This small country has a very varied history. Humans have been living there for perhaps 8,000 years, with people migrating from the lands to the east and north and from the Sahel region south of the Sahara. One group, the Proto-Berbers then developed into the Berbers (Amazigh). Then about 3,000 years ago, the Phoenicians came from the Eastern Mediterranean, followed by the Romans (2,000 years ago), then the Vandals and then the Byzantines. The Arabs came in the 7th century CE bringing Islam with them. Then the Ottoman Turks took over in 1574 after a short Spanish occupation. Italian settlers came in 19th century and then the French, who “ruled” Tunisia from 1881—1956, when Tunisia got its independence.

Although many people wear modern western clothes, traditional dress is still worn though maybe not always on a day-to-day basis, but for religious events and other ceremonies such as weddings.

1. Tunisian women wearing sefsaris
1. Tunisian women wearing sefsaris

Women’s wear

Tunisian women often wear a very large shawl (sefsari or haik) made of yellow or white silk, which covers the entire body. Most women do not cover their faces anymore. They just wrap part of the shawl around their head and hold the ends with their teeth. The shawl can be used as a veil or to carry children or packages. Underneath the sefsari, the women may wear baggy trousers and a blouse, or a long tunic.

2.. Berber women
2.. Berber women

In the rural areas, women still wear brightly coloured dresses, often in the Berber style and made of blue or red cotton, representing their region or their village. The fabric is opened on the side and is held at the waist with a belt and at the shoulders by two clasps. Typically, women of all ages wear a massive amount of jewellery and it is common to see women with tens, even hundreds of gold sovereigns, necklaces and other trimmings around their necks and from the sides of the headdress.

In the Sahel region, the centrepiece of the ceremonial dress is a long woollen or cotton dress, drawn to a bodice embroidered with silk and silver, a velvet jacket decorated with gold, lace pants and a silk belt.

3. Tunisian women wearing an embroidered kaftan
3. Tunisian women wearing an embroidered kaftan

Until the middle of the nineteenth century, the brides of the wealthy aristocracy of Tunis often wore a Kaftan made of velvet, brocade or silk and richly embroidered with gold and decorated with precious stones. Nowadays, some women marrying in Sousse and Hammamet still wear a kaftan with elbow-length sleeves and an open front. The kaftans vary in length from the knee to the mid-calf. The richness and originality of the costumes are typically based less on the cut or the fabric as they are on woven patterns or embroidery. One form of traditional women’s wear that is often worn nowadays to weddings is a combination of a long skirt (fouta) and a bustier (blouza).

4. Tunisian woman in a fouta and bustier
4. Tunisian woman in a fouta and bustier

The bride wears a two-piece outfit (keswa tounsi) made up of trousers and a bustier, which are decorated with rhinestones, crystal beads and embroidery.

5. Keswa tounsi
5. Keswa tounsi

Men’s wear

The jebba is the most popular men’s wear, a long sleeved woollen or silk robe with a slit down the front from the neck and embroidery around the neck and on the chest. Tunisian men wear white jebbas in the summer and grey ones in winter. On ordinary days, the men wear simple trousers and shirts, or/and a woollen tunic of a slimmer fit than the jebba and with long sleeves.

6.  Tunisian man in a Jebba
6. Tunisian man in a Jebba (robe) and chechia (hat)

The jebba can be worn with a vest (farmla), a jacket (montane) and baggy trousers (serouel). The seroual trousers have decorative pockets at the bottom of the legs. A wide belt, cut from the same material hold the trousers in place. A long hooded heavy wool cloak (barnous) may be worn over the jebba, especially in the cold winter months. In northern Tunisia, another form of cloak is worn, the kachabiya, which differs from the jebba as it has brown and white stripes. The men also traditionally wear a round brown or red felt hat called a chechia with a thin black tassel. The desert tribes often wear a turban instead of the chechia as the material can be used to cover the face (it is see through) to protect it from the sun and sand.

7. Tunisian man in a burnous
7. Tunisian man in a burnous and a turban
8. Kachabiya (heavy robe from Northern Tunisia used instead of a burnous)
8. Kachabiya (heavy robe from Northern Tunisia used instead of a burnous)

Shoes

Both men and women wear a form of Turkish slipper known as the balgha or the kontra — closed-toed but open-heeled leather shoes.

 

9. Tunisian shoes (balgha or kontra )
9. Tunisian shoes (balgha or kontra )

References

http://www.tunisiaonline.com/traditional-tunisian-clothing/

http://www.thelovelyplanet.net/traditional-dress-of-tunisia/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Tunisia#Traditional_clothing

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Tunisia

Tunisia By Roslind Varghese Brown, Michael Spilling

Pictures

  1. Sefsaris – http://www.baya.tn/2013/04/07/album-photo-de-la-journee-du-sefsari/
  2. Berber women – http://www.corbisimages.com/images/Corbis-PW003119.jpg?size=67&uid=0733cabe-d2a8-482c-8f06-1b57b78471b5
  3. Tunisian woman – “Woman in Tunisia”. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Woman_in_Tunisia.jpg#/media/File:Woman_in_Tunisia.jpg
  4. Fouta – http://myfouta.weebly.com/uploads/2/8/3/8/28386747/1492526_orig.jpg?322
  5. Keswa tounsi – http://www.olfa-turki.com/img/bg-main.jpg
  6. Jebba – https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/51/Homme_portant_jebba_et_chechya,_Lamta,_Tunisie,_mai_2013.jpg
  7. Bournous – https://arabspeaking.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/a.jpg
  8. Kachabiya – https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f4/COLLECTIE_TROPENMUSEUM_Gestreepte_wollen_mantel_met_capuchon_voor_mannen_TMnr_2852-1.jpg
  9. Balgha – http://www.tunisiaonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/sh.jpg 1. Sefsari – http://cdn.baya.tn/wp-content/flgallery/images/tm9kn0gu.jpg

 

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

Body

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

 

Clothing

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.

 

 

Side view of woman
Side view of woman

Accessories

They are both holding sticks in their hands (man: left; woman: right).

 

Background information

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

Kenya: General Information

celtic b-black white-01Prehistoric remains have been found in Kenya which show that humans have lived in this region for 2.5 million years. Nowadays, the Republic of Kenya has more than 40 (47?) different ethnic communities that include most of the major ethnoracial and linguistic groups to be found in Africa [Bantus (67%), Kalenjin (12%), Kamba (11%,) Kikuyu (22%), Kisii (6%), Luhya (14%), Luo (13%), Meru (6%), Nilotes (30%), other Africans (15%), non-Africans (Asian, European and Arab; 1%) and Cushitic groups (<1%).

Even though the republic has no specific national dress, there are many outfits that can be assumed to form the traditional types of clothing of Kenya. In general, the modern population use Western clothing as the men usually wear suits with ties while the women wear skirts and blouses with a khanga (a 1.5 m x 1 m piece of material wrapped around the waist and torso).

(1) Khanga materials
(1) Khanga materials

The khanga is screen printed with beautiful designs and sayings in Swahili or English. Modern Kenyan children wear American-style clothing.

(2) Kenyan sandals woth tyre-tread soles
(2) Kenyan sandals woth tyre-tread soles

The traditional dress of Kenya also includes the sandals, sometimes soled with pieces of motorcycle tires. Adult tribal men traditionally dye their hair red with ochre and fat in order to achieve the warrior look.

 

(2) Various styes of kitenges
(3) Various styes of kitenges

The kitenge is a popular traditional dress worn in Kenya, made of cotton in various colourful patterns and decorated with heavy embroidery. Although the kitenge is not the official dress of Kenya, it is commonly worn during ceremonies and non-official functions.

 

(4) Maasai shuka
(4) Maasai shuka

The world-famous Maasai are one of the Nilotic peoples. Maasai women wear vast plate-like bead necklaces and colourful khanga. The men are famous for wearing a red-checked shuka (a form of blanket) and carry a distinctive ball-ended club. The colour red is the symbol of chivalry and bravery for Maasai.

 

 

(5) Kalenjin
(5) Kalenjin
(6) Kamba
(6) Kamba

 

(7) Kikuyu (Bantu) with a khanga around her waist
(7) Kikuyu (Bantu) with a khanga around her waist

 

(8) Kisii
(8) Kisii
(9) Luo
(9) Luo
(10) Luhya
(10) Luhya
(11) Maasai (Nilotes) men jumping
(11) Maasai (Nilotes) men jumping
(12) Maasai women
(12) Maasai women
(13) Meru
(13) Meru

 

(14) Cushite men
(14) Cushite men

 

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenya#Demographics

http://www.thelovelyplanet.net/traditional-dress-of-kenya/

Namibia: Namibian woman

Front view
Front view

General description Female ragdoll

Dimensions 18 x 16 x 8 cm

Date when acquired 2000s

Original Date 2000s

Source Ragdoll advertising the Ombo Rest Camp in Northern Namibia. Acquired at a tourism exposition in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. Present from Barbara v. K.

 

Back view
Back view

Body

This ragdoll’s body is made of blue ribbed material to form a sort of jump suit, with brown material used to make the head and hands. Her face is painted on. Her hair is made of wool. She has a curly fringe, while the rest of her hair is pulled to the back of her head where it is braided into five tight plaits.

 

Clothing

On top of her “jumpsuit”, she has a sort of long smock made of cotton that is open in the back but tied at the neck with a black ribbon. The material is covered with different geometric forms in orange, light blue, purple, dark blue and a medium green that are outlined with black. The smock has small cap sleeves which are edged with blanket stitch in white on the right sleeve and yellow on the left.

 

View form the right showing hair style
View form the right showing hair style

Accessories

She has a necklace made of cardamom pods around her neck, with a label showing the name of the Ombo Rest Camp.

 

Background information

The Ombo Rest Camp is to the north of Okahandja a town founded in ca. 1800, by two local groups, the Herero and the Nama. Possible the doll represents a lady from one of these two peoples or even the Bantu majority in Namibia.

 

Cardamom is the world’s third-most expensive spice. It originally came from Asia, though is also produced in South America (Guatamala ) and Africa (Tanzania). I could not find any information about the production of cardamom in Namibia, though it is used in Namibia cuisine possibly due to the Indian influence.

 

Source(s) of information

See Namibia notes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okahandja

http://www.ombo-rest-camp.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardamom

http://goldrestaurant.blogspot.de/2013/10/namibian-venison-pot-recipe.html

Namibia

celtic b-black white-01

The Republic of Namibia, formerly known as South West Africa, was first inhabited by humans almost 2000 years ago, mainly the San, Damara and Nama peoples. In the 14th century CE, Bantu peoples moved into the area. These were followed by the Orlam in the 18th century. In the 19th century till World War I, Namibia was a German colony and after that it was mandated to South Africa by the League of the Nations. Namibia gained its independence from South Africa in 1990 and since then the country is slowly moving towards socio-economic development and political stability.

Nowadays, Namibia has the second-lowest population density of any sovereign country, after Mongolia. The majority of Namibians are Bantu (diverse tribes), but Herero, Himba, Damara and Khoisan (Nama and San) peoples also dwell in the country. Furthermore, Namibia has citizens of European descent (Whites: 6.4% of the population): mainly Afrikaner German, British and Portuguese. Namibians mostly speak Afrikaans, imported language from the Republic of South Africa. This diversity of peoples is associated with a wide variety of clothing from 19th-century European adapted to the Herero style (with cow-horn hat) to very basic clothes made of leather as worn by the early peoples of the area 2000 years ago (San and Nama). I could not find any traditional costumes for the Whites of Namibia, but I assume that they are similar to the ones used in South Africa (see South Africa).

Bantu (Ovambo)
Bantu (Ovambo)
Damara
Damara
Herero
Herero
Himba
Himba
Nama
Nama
San
San

 

Source(s) of information

http://www.thelovelyplanet.net/traditional-dress-of-namibia-far-from-the-modernizations/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namibia

 

Pictures

Bantu (Ovambo) – http://www.arebbusch.com/owambo-tribe-face-namibia/

Damara – http://www.info-namibia.com/activities-and-places-of-interest/kunene-damaraland/damara-living-museum

Herero – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2286624/The-Namibian-women-STILL-dress-like-colonists-Tribe-clings-19th-century-dress-protest-Germans-butchered-them.html#ixzz3qKOZ6w7c

Himba – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himba_people

Nama – http://www.thelovelyplanet.net/traditional-dress-of-namibia-far-from-the-modernizations/

San – http://africageographic.com/blog/the-struggle-of-the-kalahari-people/

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