This small doll (about 5.5 inches tall), made with palmetto fiber used for the figure, sports a colorful ruffled cotton dress, beaded necklace, and wide-brimmed hat. It is part of the Bell Collection, an assemblage of more than 40 dolls from around the world donated to the Maxwell Museum in 2011 by Mrs. Nancy Bell.
While earlier Seminole dolls were carved out of wood and painted, Seminole people began making this style of palmetto fiber husk dolls around 1918, with increased production in the 1930s and 40s for the tourist trade.
These dolls are often clothed in miniature versions of the colorful traditional outfits worn by Seminole men and women. Although this doll is dressed in a fairly simple striped ensemble of a skirt and cape, other articles of clothing made and worn by Seminole people can be very complex, often including brightly colored patchwork designs and appliques like ricrack trim. Note the elaborate stitching on the horizontal bands, which may mimic the ricrack trim of Seminole clothing.
To learn more about Seminole dolls and clothing in the collection of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki- Museum of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, check out these videos:
For a K-12 Activity about dolls from around the world, visit https://maxwellmuseum.unm.edu/sites/default/files/public/Dolls%20from%20Around%20the%20World%201.pdf
Origin: Florida, United States
Date: Mid to late 20th century
Post by: Lauren Fuka