Dolls of the World

St. Joseph Museums

International Dolls at the St. Joseph Museum

To the southwestern Native American tribes, every aspect of nature was represented by a spirit. These spirits, known as kachinas, were invoked through dance during religious ceremonies, but were also represented by kachina dolls. Each figure depicts the trademark style of the spirit it represents.
This figure represents Toho, the hunter kachina. He is often depicted as a yellow mountain lion, with the feathers representing ears. He is invoked for hunts and protection.
These are some of the earliest figures in America which can be recognized as dolls. Dolls represent companionship, protection, and security to the children of the world. By studying the dolls of a culture, one can better understand the culture itself.
American Dolls
While some dolls were created by the people to represent their own culture, others were created by outsiders to present their understanding of the culture. Therefore, some dolls appear as stereotypical or offensive. Dolls created as generic models were often clothed in cultural styles to depict how the people were perceived, such as this figure depicting Navajo dress.
This Inuit figure is stylized as a northern native, but in the same manner as other woolen Canadian dolls.
This woolen grandmother, and her grandfather companion figure, depicts the high class clothing of early Canadians. The contrast between the Inuit and Canadian demonstrates the cultural differences between the native peoples of America and the immigrating Europeans which settled the continent.
Nevertheless, Native American styles continue to flourish. This figure, created in Alaska, was crafted by Inuit people to share their culture and traditions with modern Americans.
Even the U.S. settlers were not without their stereotypes. This figure represent the image of a hillbilly, a poor, white American from the mountainous regions of the United States. With his shotgun and whiskey always at his side, this figure shows that no culture is without its negative depictions.
In the American south, most children were raise by a slave woman. The archetypal character "Mammy" developed as a caring, loyal house servant. The figure continued to be popular well into the 21st century, being depicted in films and most famously as the mascot for Aunt Jemima breakfast foods. These figures were highly collectible and as such exist as an unpleasant reminder of the United States' regrettable past.
Another stereotypical figure in African American culture is that of the voodoo doll. These figures were believed to represent a person the owner wished harm upon. By poking and prodding the doll, the represented person would experience displeasure and be cursed. These dolls continue to be popular among tourists to the American southeast. 
The Caribbean
The islands of the Caribbean have a proud and similar culture. Their dolls, therefore, present many of the same representations of native peoples, but through various unique styles.
Many figures are aimed at the tourists which frequent the tropical area. This doll was handmade on the streets of Nassau. It represents the cultural style unique to the island.
This doll, also from Nassau, depicts the common style of a Caribbean doll. This woman carries a basket on her head and wears brightly colored clothes.
The traditional Cuban dancer doll is a common figure from the island, here depicted as a nut head doll.
Here is a much smaller Cuban dancer made of yarn.
The matador doll represents Cuba's proud Spanish heritage. The blending of cultures is what makes the Caribbean style so unique.
This interesting doll depicts Miss Cayman, representing the perception of beauty in the Cayman Islands.
This Jamaican doll is stylized in the traditional Caribbean manner.
Another Jamaican doll depicting the traditional Caribbean style.
Another Jamaican doll, this figure represents a stark difference from the traditional Caribbean style. Clothed as a shaman like character, this doll was created from a preexisting figure to demonstrate a culture which is not often depicted in commercial souvenir dolls.
This Haitian doll, stylized in the traditional Caribbean fashion, demonstrates the great use of color in their cultural dolls.
Dolls of Mexico
Like all American dolls, the dolls of Mexico represent the cultural blending of European and Native American styles. This figure depicts the Spanish influence on Mexican culture.
This more simplistic doll represents the hard work of a Mexican farmer while also depicting the skill in hand crafting a doll.
This figure, complete with the stereotypical sombrero, represent the Mexican culture as perceived by the outside world.
Central American Dolls
Like most cultural dolls, this figure represents a worker from the country of Guatemala. Its uses simplistic materials to create a masterfully crafted figure.
This woman from Panama represents the European cultural influence which remained common among the American upper class while also demonstrating the cultural synchronicity of American culture across countries. 
South American Dolls
This clay figure depicts the traditional style of the Inca, the native peoples of South America.
Though Trinidad is located in South America, the small island is often grouped in with the Caribbean islands. As such, this figure represents the popular steel drum music of street performers in the area.
Also similar to the Caribbean style, this Brazilian doll puts its own cultural spin on the imagery of a woman with a fruit basket.
Though not a doll, this clay sculpture of a Paraguayan woman on a donkey depicts the farming culture of South America. 
A man from Uruguay, who embodies the cultural past of his nation. The doll also demonstrates the similarities between other American cultural dolls through its design and representation.
Numerous dolls in the St. Joseph Museum collection came from the islands of the Pacific Ocean. This broad area shares many similarities in style, though its peoples and cultures are very diverse.
Handmade in Hawaii, this souvenir doll represented the women of the island.
Though the doll itself was most likely a generic base, the clothing of this figure is meant to represent the cultural garb of the native New Zealanders.
Similar to the hillbilly of America, the Australian swagman was a stereotype of a drifter during the Great Depression. He carries his possessions on his back from town to town, seeking employment.
Labeled the "Lady of Guam", this stern faced doll represents the cultural garb of the island.
Similar to the Native American dolls, this figure depicts the bridal costume of a native Filipino woman.
This figure, however, demonstrates a more modern Filipino bridal costume. The two dolls depict the same subject, but through different points in the islands' history.
Similar to the Caribbean souvenir dolls, this Filipino doll depicts a dancer in traditional cultural clothing.
Ms. Hyogo
In 1924, the United States issued the Immigration Act, prohibiting East Asians from moving to the country. In an attempt to promote cultural awareness and mutual respect between the two nations, former missionary Dr. Sidney Gulick founded the Committee on World Friendship Among Children in 1927. Their first mission was to send over 12,000 American "blue-eyed" dolls to Japan.
The dolls arrived in Japan during Hinamatsuri, the annual doll festival. In response, Japanese Viscount Shibusawa Eiichi commissioned 58 Japanese friendship dolls to be sent to America. Ms. Hyogo, on display at the St. Joseph Museums, is one of the masterfully crafted dolls sent to America to promote cultural understanding between the children of the world.
Asian Dolls
The long history of Asian cultures is best represented by the diversity of their dolls.
Many Japanese dolls share a cultural style. Their fragile, white, ceramic heads are masterfully painted and covered in a wig of black hair. Silk kimonos cover their cloth frames.
This figure, with its familiar white face and colorful kimono, represents a Japanese mother with her child strapped to her back, an image prevalent in dolls across cultures and nations.
This boy, along with his girl match, represent the Children's Day festivals in Japan.
This wooden figure was carved and painted in the style of a samurai, the Japanese warrior class.
Also a carved and painted wooden figure, this Korean man is one of a set of cultural figures.
A Korean woman in cultural costume.
Chinese dolls are often part of a larger set depicting cultural figures. This wooden house boy figure is one of many dolls depicting the cultural wardrobe of the Chinese people.
This Chinese boy represents the upper class and another style of Chinese doll making.
A Chinese puppet depicting a student priest.
One of a unique set of puppets, this Manchurian prince depicts the clothing of the noble class as well as the intriguing style of wooden puppetry.
This maid of honor doll is one of a set of Chinese princesses.
As with the Japanese figure, this doll represents the role of a Chinese mother with her child.
This wax figure was used to display Taiwanese style of clothing for purchase.
Similarly, this wax figure modeled the Vietnamese style of clothing.
This masterfully crafted ceramic piece depicts a Siamese prince.
This figure, handmade in Thailand, represents a Siamese dancer. It demonstrates the unique cultural dancing style as well as the flashy wardrobe of the dancer.
This wooden doll is the Prince of Ceylon, modern day Sri Lanka.
With a wooden frame, this figure depicts an Indian dancer wearing cultural jewelry, piercings, and clothing.
Another Indian wooden figure, this miniature snake charmer is one of many cultural figures in a set which also depicts Indian warriors and priestesses. 
Similar in style to most European dolls, this cloth figure was modeled after an Indian water boy.
Middle Eastern Dolls
Centuries of cultural changes make the Middle East a wonderful place for different styles of clothing, crafting, and toy making. This Arabian doll demonstrates one such style with wooden feet nailed to the frame. His clothes and painted face represent a traditional image of an Arabian man.
This doll was purchased on the streets of Pakistan. Its magnificent colors and clothing make it a perfect representation of the culture and tradition of its people.
This Lebanese doll invokes images of medieval European royalty, while retaining a Middle Eastern uniqueness.
Named Issac, this figure from Israel is dressed in the traditional Orthodox costume.
While there are numerous representations of Africa peoples and cultures across other nation's dolls, the St. Joseph Museum only has a few native dolls in its collection. This North African doll, made of feathers, hair, and ceramic limbs, seems to represent a shaman character similar to the Jamaican doll. It is a unique and haunting figure.
European Dolls
Europe is a continent of many different cultures and a mass producer of dolls. These figures demonstrate the cultural costumes of its diverse peoples.
Purchased at the Acropolis, this figure demonstrates the military uniform of Greek soldiers. The painted face and pom poms on its feet, known as Tsarouhi, are trademarks of the area.
This Bulgarian peasant costume depicts the sternness of its rich history.
A Romanian farmer, complete with scythe, dressed in traditional clothes.
A large doll dressed in traditional Hungarian costume.
This Austrian figure, complete with lederhosen and squeezebox, depicts the traditions of Austria.
Czechoslovakian dolls are often depicted with leather boots and colorful dresses.
This wooden doll depicts both the doll making and clothing styles of Poland.
This Soviet Era farmer doll depicts the historic Russian period and its people.
As with the Inuits of the American north, the Sami of the Finnish Lapland are a hardy, Arctic dwelling people. This figure, carved of wood and dressed in reindeer skin, represents their cultural heritage. Many other dolls from Scandinavian countries depict the Sami clothing in various different ways, but this figure offers a more authentic representation. 
Blues, reds, and whites are the most common clothing colors for Finnish dolls.
The blues and yellows of Swedish dolls match clothing to hair and eyes.
Unlike the other Scandinavian dolls, Norwegian dolls are often dressed in reds and blacks. Each nation's flag is reflected in their cultural clothing.
As with many European dolls, this figure represents the peasant costume of Denmark.
Following WWII, West Germany became one of the greatest producers of dolls in the world. As a result, most of the St. Joseph Museum's collection, including this figure on display, were manufactured in Germany.
This German schoolboy depicts the cultural clothing of the nation's youth.
Dutch dolls are always equipped with their traditional wooden clogs.
The United Kingdoms contains many unique cultures. This British soldier depicts the uniform of the Auxiliary Territorial Service, a women's branch of the British army during WWII.
This small figure depicts Welsh costume.
Complete with a traditional kilt and thistle pin, this figure depicts the Scottish cultural dress.
A traditional Irish character, dressed in green and red, this figure represents the Irish Colleen, a fair countrywoman.
Made in France, this doll depicts a bride of Brittany.
This doll, made of wood, depicts the cultural dress of Switzerland.
The Italian city-states developed their own unique styles before unifying in the 19th century. This figure, made in Genoa, demonstrates one of the varied styles.
This Italian doll from Sienna depicts one of the Contrade of Siena, the historic districts within the city. 
A Sicilian donkey driver.
Many Spanish dolls, like this one known as Esteban, are covered by a large, black cloak.
Spanish dancers are one of the most recognizable figures. The large dress and dancing pose is a common figure among Spanish dolls.
This Portuguese fisherman represents the fine detail in doll making.
A large doll from the Madeira Islands, depicting the unique cultural costume of its people.
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