Dolls are among the oldest kid’s toys in the world. In the past, they also played the role of amulets and protection items for children. Mothers made dolls using special materials, techniques, spells (songs, rhymes, etc). Today, most of the dolls don’t have any sacred meaning or function, they are used just for kids to play. Though even these days, some dolls are made and used for some kind of protection from the evil. Also, they are often dressed in folk costumes of a certain country to keep the clothing tradition and make the toy more authentic.
For instance, in Ukraine, such dolls are called “motanka”. They are made without sewing, the fabric is wound, twisted, and tied, but not sewed. Certain garments for motanka dolls are sewn and embroidered but before they are put onto the doll. Vintage motanka dolls were considered sacred and highly protective. The upper garments were originally sewn from old father’s shirt and bottom garments from mother’s skirt (parents of the child who will play with this toy).
Also, there was an old and curious custom – a motanka doll was made when the woman got pregnant and it was laid in the cradle (it is said that this doll protected and warmed up the crib for the baby) until the child was born. After that, motanka was hung above the cradle or placed somewhere in the room.
Practically every country has its own traditions of making folk dolls, whether they’re amulet dolls or just simple toys.
These dolls can be rag dolls, cloth dolls, felted dolls, clay or porcelain dolls, wooden dolls, modern plastic dolls, etc. But folk dolls are always dressed in tiny traditional outfits, with typical hairstyles, accessories, jewelry pieces, and other folk elements.
Here are various traditional dolls from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Collection of dolls dressed in folk costumes of different countries
Ukrainian dolls made from skeins of threads and fabric. They are dressed in skillfully and accurately made folk outfits
Uzbek folk dolls wearing national male and female costumes
Palestinian traditional dolls dressed in folk costumes
Kyrgyz dolls that look like modern barbies but are dressed in folk outfits
Various Ukrainian motanka dolls made from fabric, burlap, cord, etc
Kyrgyz felted dolls wearing traditional clothing pieces adorned with folk patterns
Armenian rag dolls dressed in national costumes. There are a lot of fur garments on them
Japanese dolls wearing artfully made traditional garments
Ukrainian dolls. The tallest is a motanka doll made from the fabric; 3 other dolls are made from natural materials (corn husk and corn silk, fabric for the frame)