Emily P. Reynolds Historic Costume Collection:
Around The World Doll Collection
The Around the World Doll Collection was donated by Frances B. Herbst. From 1930s to the 1970s, she collected approximately 300 dolls from 78 different countries. She donated the collection on December 4, 1972.
The collection expanded with a donation from Don Larew in 2004. Don Larew was a Professor of Theater Arts at North Dakota State University for 40 years. The collection grew with gifts and purchases, and soon reached over 250 dolls.
With the addition of a few smaller collections, the Around the World Doll Collection now includes over 500 dolls from over 123 countries.
See more of the collection here.
Santoine: These are great dolls, but I feel uneasy looking at the Black doll with the red lips. Just reminds me of racist caricatures of Black people iono
But these dolls look nice
Fuji Musume (the Japanese doll, third one down, in the red and white) is actually a man portraying a female role in a popular kabuki play. Cross-dressing was pretty common in the Edo period, and wasn’t frowned upon until (you guessed it) Westerners invaded the country.
The kimono is rich in symbolism. Wisteria is always in white and purples, the way the actual plant grows. White and red are neutral kimono colours, and tend to err on the formal side. Of course, in this instance, the red inner kosode is referring to Fuji Musume’s inner passionate feelings. The obijime (obi cord) seems to have come into use towards the early 1800s, and tends to serve as a support for the obi. The sleeve length refers to the characters’ age: at this point, the woman would not have been much older than 14 or 15. 15 was the age of adulthood at the time.
Dolls like these were mostly made in the Occupation years post WW2. I have one as well, although mine is a different style. The costume is not fixed. It changes in style depending on the incarnation of production. Like all plays, kabuki performances do change! Static traditions tend to lose cultural interest. Even traditional theatre evolves!