General description Columbian peasant husband and wife.
Date when acquired: 1960s
Original Date: 1960s
Source: Bought by my father in Bogotá.
Both dolls have a plastic body with movable arms and legs. Each doll is stuck to a round plastic plate (diameter 3.5 cm) by one foot, with the other leg being able to move freely. The woman’s plate is red and the man’s blue. Their eyes and eyebrows are painted and the man has a painted black moustache. The man has straight black hair reaching almost to his collar while the woman has long red hair tied in a single plait that goes down way past her waist. Her fringe has been rolled up and sticks out from under her scarf.
Dimensions: 12 x 11 x10 cm
The female doll is wearing a long black cotton pollera with a band of red cotton zigzag braid above the hem and another in yellow roughly half-way up the skirt. Above that she has a V-necked long-sleeved white blouse with lace down the front of the blouse and around the cuffs. Under her skirt, she is wearing a long white cotton petticoat with lace around the hem that peeps out from under the pollera. Her underpants are made of white cotton like the petticoat. On her feet she has sandals made of white cotton tied with black thread.
Her head is covered by a large black scarf and over this she originally had a sombrero made of woven finely cut palm leaves, but this has broken and she now has a hat made of straw (bought in a gardening shop in Göttingen).
On her right arm, the woman is carrying a basket made of woven palm leaves either in its natural colour or dyed in two shades of yellowy brown. Inside the basket are “eggs” made of a styropore-like material.
Dimensions: 12 x 6.5 x 5 cm
The man is wearing a pair of loose blue trousers made of a thick woven material. His long-sleeved shirt is made of white cotton and has a high collar. Around his waist he has a white cotton belt. His sandals are similar to his wife’s.
He has a coarsely woven oatmeal-coloured fringed ruana folded over his right shoulder. He also originally wore a sombrero but again this has had to be replaced by a straw hat bought in Germany.
He has a red leather satchel slung over his right shoulder and hanging on his waist on the left. A white twisted wire walking stick is looped over his right wrist.
Columbia’s traditional women’s dress worn nowadays at fiestas consists of the pollera colora [brightly coloured skirt]. This vividly coloured skirt is matched with a round-necked blouse that reveals the shoulders. Both are decorated with ruffles or lace around the neck or hem. The skirts also have bands of bright colours with various motives printed onto them.
Columbian men wear brightly coloured trousers with ruffles around the ankles. In addition, they wear capes and elaborate headdresses.
To protect themselves against the cold (especially in the Andean regions), the Columbians wear a ruana. This cape-like piece of clothing is a cross between a shawl and a Mexican poncho. It consists of a wide swath of cloth wrapped around both shoulders, or wrapped around one shoulder and loosely draped over the other. Nowadays, Colombian farmers and tradesmen of both genders wear ruanas made of primitive, undyed wool, while the people in the towns wear ruanas made of various types of fabrics.
Another traditional Colombian fashion still favoured by Colombian men today is the sombrero vueltiao [turned hat]. It is one of Colombia’s national symbols. Originally, it was only worn by the peasants. Such hats are made of natural palm fibres using a traditional Zenú technique. The Zenú are an ethnic group still living in Columbia (population 35,000) and they still use the same techniques they have been using for a thousand years. Modern Columbian sombreros can be beautiful pieces of art, depicting religious scenes or everyday activities like hunting and fishing.
This pair of dolls is wearing the more sombre day-to-day clothes of Columbian farmers rather than the bright fiesta clothing described above. Their agricultural theme is underlined by the man’s walking stick (maybe used to drive animals) and the woman’s basket of eggs. Both of them wore originally a sombrero vueltiao made of palm leaves but they both broke when being transported during one of my many moves. These hats I replaced by wide-brimmed straw hats to cover the glue spots left by the original hats.
Source(s) of information
http://people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/national-traditions/colombian-tradition3.htm; http://www.joshuaproject.net/people-profile.php?peo3=20312&rog3=CO and http://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2006/06/article_0002.html (all accessed 19 January, 2013)