Haitian or Jamaican Souvenir Dolls

(Photos and information are courtesy of a museum benefactor.)

Name:  Caribbean Dolls of Haitian or Jamaican Origin

Made by and When:  Exact source unknown, but handmade for the Caribbean tourist trade, likely between the world wars

Material:  Wood

Marks:  None

Height:  9 inches

Hair, Eyes, Mouth:  While there are no wigs, the three women have heads carved with extra high crowns, which, when covered with headwraps, give the impression of covered hair.  The eyes and mouths are simply carved and then painted.

Clothes:   The women have light cotton dresses, two with aprons, underpants, and headwraps.  The headwrap of the third woman appears to have been improperly reattached at some point with the basket placed underneath the headwrap instead of vice versa (the basket should be on top for carrying fruit or other wares). As a result, more of the elongated head is exposed. The man has a vest/shirt with shell buttons over a painted undershirt, a jockey-style cap, and heavy cotton pants.

Other:  The close-up profile shows the inserted nose and carved eyes and mouth, the painted earrings, and the screw used in jointing the shoulder.  The profile picture shows the unusual hip joint and the slightly bent knees all the dolls have; the dolls can sit. An identically made 9-inch doll (without the headwrap) described as Haitian is identified and valued on page 89 in Wallace-Homestead Price Guide to Dolls by Robert Miller (Wallace-Homestead Book Company, 1982).

Gallery

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Published by DeeBeeGee

Doll collector, historian, co-founder of the first e-zine devoted to collecting black dolls; author of black-doll reference books, doll blogs, and doll magazine articles.

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