Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Paper dolls

These dolls belong to collectors John and Lise Thomas, who specialize in vintage Mexican textiles and clothes, as well as other Mexican folk artifacts. When I visited them at an exhibit show they had an entire wall display of these papier mache dolls.

They have jointed limbs, and their clothing is painted on - they appear to be wearing old-fashioned tights and leotards, like circus performers. Because they are made by hand, each doll has her own unique hairstyle and facial expression, and each doll has her name lettered on her body.

John didn't have a lot of information about the dolls, but said that they were made in the city of Celaya, located in the state of Guanajuato.

They are called Munecas, or dolls, and described in a variety of ways. Munecas de carnival, for their circus-like attire; Munecas de Salamanca, named after the city in Spain that excelled in papier mache crafts; Munecas de carton, or cardboard dolls.

A blogger named Mexico Bob has written about these papier mache dolls, that appear for sale in Guanajuato during Holy Week. His post is the best and most comprehensive information I could find about them on the web.

According to Bob, they are an old tradition, sold to little girls during Holy Week, while their brothers were given papier mache hobby horses. They are associated with another tradition, papier mache Judas dolls, that were ceremoniously blown up with firecrackers until the government cracked down on such dangerous celebrations.

I love their individual and unique faces. And I love the fact that they each have their own name lettered onto their bodies. I would love to know more about this craft and tradition.

John and Lise Thomas frequently have a booth at the Vintage Fashion Expo, showing on the West Coast in Santa Monica and San Francisco each spring and fall.


mo.stoneskin said...

I've always been a bit freaked out by dolls, I think it is the eyes, but still, very interesting!

Lulda Casadaga said...

I love these dolls. I have a small collection of unique dolls and I have a friend who is a collector. She has, well lets just say, in the hundreds of dolls. I don't have the room for such a large collection! And heck, I don't care to be dusting my life away!! thanks for a fun & interesting blog...