National Doll - Finnish, circa 1970s-1980s Object Reg. No: SH 940179

National doll produced to represent a Finnish woman, it was given to Monica Gates, circa 1970s-1980s. Finnish folk dress can be divided in two groups: Western and Karelian (eastern). Women's dress for both types includes a long skirt, blouse, bodice and some form of headwear. Striped fabrics are often used for women's skirts in Western Finnish folk dress, and the colours used are normally darker and include red, green and brown. Karelian women's costumes were generally, black, red or blue and are distinguished from Western costumes by the short white cape/shawl worn by women in both summer and winter. Northern Finland is also home to the Sami people (the indigenous inhabitants of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia). Sami women traditionally wear a knee to mid-calf length coat, with leggings, boots or shoes, headdress and sometimes an apron. The coats are commonly known as gakti (although this actually refers to the cloth they are made out of) and may be coloured, blue, black, white or occasionally green. They have bands of ornamentation in red, yellow, green or blue.

While this doll has been identified by the collector and previous owner as being from Finland, in actual fact the costume is much more likely to be representative of the Prigorje region of Croatia.

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 represent.
The girl is dressed with a white dress. Her wrists, down from the neck to her waist and at the bottom of her half pinafore is a border in blue, red, green and black. Over her half pinafore she is wearing a triangle cloth. It is the same colour as her scarf: red, green, black, white and orange. Around her neck she has another scarf in red, white and blue. On her scarf is a golden decorative cravat. She has blonde plaits, at their ends are red ribbons. The girl is wearing white stockings, red shoes and has red ribbons around her ankles.
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 23.50 cm (Height), 6.00 cm (Width), 10.50 cm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: clothing, souvenirs, cultural beliefs, dolls, national costumes, children s play, national identity, cultural awareness
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: Finland, circa 1970s-1980s
User: Mrs Monica Gates, Victoria, Australia, circa 1970s-1990s
Other Association (See Comments): Finland

Doll is intended to represent Finnish woman in traditional dress, possibly a Sami woman.


Roman Kozak Posted on 12 May 2012 3:00 AM
A pretty doll, but you have been misinformed as to its origin. It is not Finnish or Saami at all. It may have been acquired in Finland, but the costume is that of the region of Prigorje in Croatia. See my blog entry on the subject.

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