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National Doll - Fijian, Tapa, circa 1988 Object Reg. No: SH 940181

National doll produced to represent Fiji, it was brought by Monica Gates, circa 1988 at Sigatoka. The doll is made from masi (also known as tapa or barkcloth) and black plastic, with the face drawn on in black pen. It is dressed in a two piece outfit (long skirt and blouse). Tapa is made throughout the Pacific Islands, in Fiji it is made from inner mulberry bark and is decorated using a stencilling technique. Stencils were originally they made from large leaves such as banana leaves, although these days, x-ray film, or the plastic from rice bags, is generally used because it is more durable. One of the most well-known styles of Fijian masi is masi kesa, white masi decorated with brown and black geometric designs, which repeat from the outer edge of the cloth towards the centre.

The Gates collection contains 170 national dolls from 74 different countries and some correspondence relating to the acquisition of several of the dolls. The costumes of the dolls represent national costumes from the 19th Century to the 1990s. Monica Gates collected or was given these dolls between 1957 and 1990.

These dolls were purchased as souvenirs of particular countries and like many mass produced souvenirs they are often not accurate representations of a particular country or region, and may actually better reflect neighbouring counties or regions. This occurs because costumes are often stylised and simplified resulting dolls wearing generic costume elements which are common to many countries/regions. Often the fabrics and decorations used are selected to make the dolls cheap and easy to manufacture and aesthetically pleasing. This can result in the fabrics, colours and decorations of the doll's clothing having little or no reflection of the costume associated with a particular country or region they are meant to be representative of.
Doll made from barkcloth with a barkcloth dress with stenciled black and brown designs. The black hairs and the arms are made from strips of black plastic. The face has been drawn on with black ink.
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 26.00 cm (Height), 5.50 cm (Width), 11.00 cm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: clothing, souvenirs, cultural beliefs, dolls, national costumes, children s play, national identity, cultural awareness, pacific islands
Themes this item is part of: Childhood & Youth Collection, Clothing & Textiles Collection
Primary Classification: CULTURAL IDENTITY
Secondary Classification: Ethnicity - Clothing
Tertiary Classification: national dolls
Place Made: Fiji, circa 1981
User: Mrs Monica Gates, Victoria, Australia, circa 1980s-1990s
Other Association (See Comments): Fiji

This doll is made from masi (Fijian barkcloth) and would have been made for the tourist trade.

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