Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Where's my Face?

Why don't Amish dolls have faces?
The most popular legend is that Amish dolls are faceless because somewhere in the Bible it prohibits making graven images.  This makes no sense.  Once you have graven an entire body, how relevant is a face?

Another legend features the little Amish girl who had been given a doll by her "English" teacher.  When her father saw the doll, he replaced the pretty head with an old stuffed sock, saying that "only God can make people."  Huh?  Just because you have a sock head doesn't mean you're not people.
The Amish are not alone.  Native American tradition creates faceless corn husk dolls.  The Oneida Nation believes if a doll has a face, the child will identify too much with it.  A pretty face can cause the girl to become conceited and prideful.  According to Iroquois tradition, a corn husk doll sent to play with children became conceited after seeing her reflection.  As punishment, an eagle stole her reflection and her features.

Let's add some reality to the mix.
Dolls were created in some early Amish homes by wrapping pieces of wood in cloth and were played with by both boys and girls.  It is possible that the faceless dolls simply evolved from these crude dolls.

Non-Amish American pioneers were making dolls at about the same time.  The dolls were made of corn husks, old scraps of clothing, wooden spoons and clothespins wrapped in cloth.  These makeshift dolls were also faceless. 

If you are working from before dawn until after dark to create a home and family in the wilderness, a doll is a luxury, let alone one with a face. 

It's not like pioneer mom, Amish mom or Indian mom had a Sharpie or  thread to waste.  Besides, if you have ever made a doll, you know hard it is to make a decent looking face.

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