Mom Du Jos

Name: Mom Du Jos

Made by and When: I. Roberta Bell (Bertabel Dolls), October 3, 1980

Material: Baked clay head and hands and brown cloth body

Marks: Handwritten and signed cardstock hangtag

Height: 13 inches

Hair, Eyes, Mouth: Sculpted and painted black hair, brown painted eyes, closed mouth

Clothes: The costume of riga (white kimono-type top) and white wando (trousers) were made by Falcon Garth. The riga has an embroidered green design at the hemline. The doll and original fez (now replaced) were made by the artist. 

Other: The doll’s hang tag, dated October 3, 1980, notes in the artist’s handwriting that the doll is an exclusive original (one-of-a-kind) fashioned after the character in the book, Mom Du Jos the Story of a Little Black Doll by Erick Berry, copyright 1931. Made During the 1980s Bell’s Mom Du Jos has facial scarification worn by the Haussas, a people of northern Nigeria and southern Niger.

In the book that inspired the doll’s creation, the doll, whose full name is Moham Adu Jos, was a Louisiana transplant to Africa, possibly by way of travel with his original owner, a doll maker, who was referred to throughout the book as The Lady in the White Sun Helmet. After his separation from her and the series of relocations that followed, Mom Du eventually returns to the loving hands of the Lady in the White Sun Hat.  One of the little African girls, in whose hands he landed before his return, becomes the owner’s doll-making assistant.




-See other Bertabel’s Dolls in the museum here.

-Visit the Bertabel’s Dolls by I. Roberta Bell Pinterest board here.

-Read more about the artist and her work in a three-part series that begins 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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