M95.1 | Doll

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Anonyme - Anonymous
Eastern Woodlands
Aboriginal: Mi'kmaq
1845-1855, 19th century
Wool cloth, silk ribbon, cotton thread, glass beads, leather
12.5 x 6.5 cm
Gift of Mr. David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Doll (129)
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Keys to History

Miniatures in the form of dolls played an important role in most Aboriginal cultures, and the Mi'kmaq were no exception. Like miniature canoes, dolls served both as children's toys and sometimes as objects used in healing rituals. On occasion, dolls depicted characters from legends, thus helping to transmit to younger generations the knowledge of their elders.

Aboriginal dolls were very popular as souvenirs, which is not surprising considering the importance of dolls in European culture. Perhaps tourists also purchased dolls because they represented, in miniature, the Aboriginal people encountered during their travels. This doll is dressed in Mi'kmaq clothing and wears a traditional peaked cap.

  • What

    This doll is made of leather and wool, and wears a traditional Mi'kmaq outfit and peaked cap decorated with silk ribbons and glass beads. The figure of the doll is made from three "fingers" of an old leather glove-an excellent example of the use of recycled materials.

  • Where

    This doll comes from Nova Scotia.

  • When

    It is believed that this doll was made in the mid-19th century.

  • Who

    David Ross McCord wrote in 1914: "This Mic-Mac [...] doll [...] dressed in the Poke and Costume of the tribe [was] made for a child of the Mic-Macs, when she was such. She is now a woman of seventy years of age - thus going back sixty-five years..." This passage reminds us that while McCord was attracted to all items made by Aboriginal people, he was, like many collectors, particularly interested in the oldest examples.