Jamaica Souvenir Dolls

Name: 1940s-1950s Jamaica Souvenir Dolls

Made by and When: Handmade by Jamaican women, circa 1940s-1950s

Material: Mixed media of cloth, woven baskets, raffia, crepe paper, and firm (possibly straw) stuffing

Marks: “Miss Jamaica” or “Miss Jamaica, WI” is handwritten on the women’s aprons.

Height: From the top of the women’s baskets to their feet they are 9-1/2, 11, 12, and 14 inches tall. The man is 14 inches from the top of his straw hat to his feet.

Hair, Eyes, Mouth: The women’s heads are covered with cotton scarves to which are glued baskets of crepe-paper balls that represent fruit or vegetables. The facial features are crudely hand-painted. The man’s bald head is covered with a straw hat.

Clothes: All handmade, mixed multicolored cotton fabric dresses, undergarments, white or light-colored aprons with “Miss Jamaica” or Miss Jamaica, WI handwritten on the aprons, and gold-tone hoop earrings sewn to the headscarves of three of the four women.  Baskets of “fruit” are attached to the headscarves. In addition to “fruit,” dyed raffia is in the 12-inch doll’s basket. The man wears a floral print shirt, tan pants, and a straw hat.

Other: Made by Jamaican women, these handmade cloth dolls were used to generate income from Jamaican tourists during the 1940s-1950s. The well-endowed women represent Jamaican women who sold fruit and vegetables in marketplaces and in tourist areas of Jamaica.



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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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