General description: Doll in Ancient Latvian Dress (7th – 13th century)
Dimensions 16 x 11 x 8 cm
Date when acquired 2015
Original Date Apparently bought in the 1970s
Source Flea market in Göttingen
The doll’s body and head are made of wood. The features are painted on. She has no arms as such but wooden beads sewn on the end of her sleeves to act like hands. Her hair is white wool drawn back from a central parting and tied in a single thick plait down to her waist.
She is wearing a white long-sleeved cotton blouse over a long, wide, dark brown skirt made of a thick material with a roughened upper surface. Two lines of yellow stitching adorn the hem. A rough plain beige linen sash (josta) is holding her skirt in place. She has a large dark blue rectangular shawl (villaine) over her shoulders, which goes down below her hips. Again the edges are decorated with lines of plain back stitch in yellow and red.
Her bronze jewellery is very unusual. She is wearing a circlet around her head with long pendants hanging down each side. Around her neck is a sort of breastplate with four stiff bronze chains over it. She also has two bronze chokers tight around her neck.
Her bronze jewellery is typical of the Ancient Latvian dress. For at least a thousand years, the head-covering served to signify the wearer’s marital status; this doll’s bronze crown indicates that she is unmarried.
However, the original colours of this style of dress were the natural white and grey of linen with embellishments in blue, red, yellow and green, not the dark colours seen in the skirt and shawl of this doll. The dark colours came after the 13th century.
She is also wearing an essential part of the Latvian national dress, a woollen shawl, which is possibly one of the oldest parts of the costume. The dark blue colour is typical of pre-19th century Latvian costumes.
Source(s) of information
Latvia: General information