From late August through to early October 2016 I was lucky enough to travel with my partner in some really beautiful places. Naturally in each place I went looking as various dolls to be found there because I was interested in how dolls pop up in different cultures. I’m sure I could do heaps more research on the subject, but curiously there isn’t a lot of research on the subject of dolls. They are universal, although they appear in such different ways. I was fascinated by them all, from the rag dolls that seem to be everywhere all over Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean, to the beautifully dressed figures of saints in the various churches we saw. This post is just for Mexico City, otherwise it was too long.
The interesting thing about Mexico City is that there were dolls everywhere. Practically the first thing I picked up in our hotel room was a tiny doll. This little creature was made to capture bad dreams, or to ensure a good night’s sleep, probably both. The thing that struck me about most of the places we went was the deeply held belief that the doll is a substitute for oneself, a stand-in that can act as a vehicle to another world. The doll takes on the bad stuff instead of the hapless human, or the gorgeously dressed figures in the churches were meant to intercede on behalf of the supplicant. I found them all very beautiful and moving.
|This tiny little dolls is called Buenas Noches. She is 6 cms long and dressed in bits of T-shirt and hand woven fabric. She is a traditional Mayan ‘Quitapesares’, or sorrow remover doll. You tell her your sorrows, put her under your pillow, sleep, and next day your sorrows will be gone. I think she is charming, although I haven’t actually put her to the test yet.
There were a few Barbies in a shop in the tourist area at the centre of the city, but they weren’t that inetresting.
I found the universal stuffed rag doll of the region on sale outside the Frida Kahlo museum (Frida Kahlo is one of my favourite artists). Inside the FK museum (her house in Mexico City), was a delightful cabinet full of doll furniture, but it was hard to get images as they were in a cabinet. There were plenty of other figures to be found in Mexico City, and in the airport at Cancun on our way out to Cuba.
Frida Kahlo’s curio cabinet, Mexico City
Small tourist doll from outside the Frida Kahlo museum, Mexico City
There were heaps of other kinds of figures to do with the Day of the Dead.
Tourist figures for Day of the Dead, Medico City
Raffia Dolls, Mexico City
Small guardian figures found at the corner of a temple excavation, Mexico City
(not dolls perhaps, but similar in function to the little Mayan Quitapeares doll).
Barbies dressed in traditional Mexican costume, Cancun airport. I got the impression these were older or second-hand Barbies that had been dressed in styles from various regions. They were very pretty, if a little pricey.