Native Australian (Aboriginal) Dolls

Name: Miracle, Mullyan, and Faith—Native Australian (Aboriginal) Dolls

Made by and When: Wendy Frank, 2009

Material: Papier-mâché, felt, different shades of brown paint and brown cloth, and leather

Marks: Artist-signed hangtags

Height: 17, 15, and 17 inches

Hair and Facial Features: Synthetic hair in shades of brown and auburn, molded and painted mask faces have brown hand-painted eyes, broad noses and lips.

Clothes: The dolls wear clothing and shoes designed and handmade by the artist using felt, embroidery stitching, and appliqués of Australian animals and scenes.  The girls wear white lace undies.

Underneath the tan felt jumper, Miracle wears a long-sleeved white jersey-knit T-shirt that has an attached faux fur trimmed hood. Across her shoulder Miracle carries a canvas tote bag decorated with hand-painted animals and reptiles. A pair of white canvas black-yarn lace-up boots are inside the tote bag. Miracle’s white felt boots also have white faux-fur-trim.

Mullyan’s (Yanni’s) blue felt short overalls have a jumping felt kangaroo stitched to one leg. A multicolored striped jersey-knit shirt is underneath the overalls. White socks and painted blue and white felt shoes laced with black yarn cover the feet. In one hand Yanni holds a Maori doll that represents the indigenous people of New Zealand. A stuffed kangaroo is held in the other hand.

Faith wears a royal blue felt jumper with a navy-blue long-sleeved jersey-knit T-shirt underneath. A royal blue crocheted hat, knit white socks, and handmade white leather black-yarn-laced boots complete Faith’s oufit.

Other: Their different complexions were achieved using different shades of brown paint and brown cloth. Their cloth bodies are sturdily stuffed. The knees are dimpled with stitching. The fingers and toes are separated with stitches. The thumbs are separate. The dolls are jointed at the arms and legs. The heads are not jointed.

Wendy Frank named the dolls and included a note inside each signed hangtag. The inside of Miracle’s hang tag reads, “‘Miracle,’ ‘Tarnira’ OOAK WFrank 2009.” Yanni’s hangtag reads, “This boy’s name is ‘Mullyan’ which means ‘Eagle.’ My people on my father’s side [comes] from Mullengandra (Home of the Eagle)… WFrank OOAK for Debbie G.” Faith’s hangtag reads, “‘Faith’ OOAK WFrank 2009.”

Wendy Frank described her dollmaking technique as “similar to the master’s Lenci, [Norah] Wellings, and [Käthe] Kruse).” Wendy began making the dolls for the same reason that black dolls were made in the US.  “There just are no Aboriginal dolls for the Aboriginal kids here to feel pride and associate to, all bar white dolls painted or coloured black, or for that matter, very poor excuses for Australian Aboriginals…  Aboriginal kids are some of the most gorgeous faces on this planet, in my opinion.  It makes sense to make dolls that look like them.  They deserve their own dolls as do all ethnicities.” [Dolls magazine] Read more from the Dolls article here.



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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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