Total Pageviews

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Egypt has a long history with ancient dolls and figures, though not so much with modern dolls. Only recently have I been able to find any modern costume dolls, and some were Nubian women brought to me from a good friend's trip. Some trivia; On the other side of the Sphynx and the Great Pyramid lies a modern avenue, complete with a McDonalds. Two icons that span milennia are not neighbors.

With one rare 1930s doll from Egypt, it is hard to find dolls, though Ushabti are being reproduced, as well as jewelry and bone statues of Neferititi, Tut, and others.

I first came in contact with an ancient Coptic bone doll when I was seven, at the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose. It was really adoll torso, but had a sweet face. I also saw the grave figures, or Ushabi, and wooden models with moving arms and legs. There were miniature rooms at our local museum, and a collection of small grave figures, too. I saw those when I was six, and began to read about paddle dolls and other figures when I was only nine, in Helen Young's classic, The Complete Book of Doll Collecting, and Mary Hillier's, Dolls and Doll Makers. These books made my 8th and 9th Christmases very special. I saw ancient Greek dolls in the museums in Athens and Delphi when I was nine, and I cried; they were very touching and even lifelike. I wanted them right away! Later, I reproduced them myself and looked for artist's renditions.

Dolls in the ancient world literally saved the lives of people; witness the Terra Cotta soldiers. Teh population was dwindling from disease and too much human sacrifice; the little figrues who would come to live in the afterworld were the solution.

Ancient Eqyptian dolls include the 2000 year old rag doll, found in a child's tomb, paddle dolls [were they toys or not?}, Ushabit, and jointed figures and miniatures. There are also dolls of precious metals and stones, and ivory. They are well executed and sophisticated. Mary H. includes a mannikin of Tut in her book, and we know that these people had many games and toys.

My book A Bibliography of Doll and Toy Sources, on Amazon, also has many sources for finding ancient dolls.

Other authors who discuss ancient dolls are Max von Boehn, Leslie Gordon, Janet Pagter Johl, Gwen White,and Carl Fox.

No comments:

Post a Comment