Similar items over time

National Doll - Malaysian, Malay, Food Hawker, 1977 Object Reg. No: SH 940239

National doll produced to represent a Malaysian woman. It was purchased for Monica Gates in 1977 while the family was on holiday. They travelled across the causeway from Singapore to Malaysia and saw a woman selling all sorts of dolls in the market at Johore Bahru. The doll is intended to represent a typical food hawker. Malaysia is a multi-ethnic society with each group having particular customs and traditions. While Western dress is often worn when traditional clothing is worn: Malay women commonly wear: baju kurung, a knee-length blouse worn over a long skirt; Chinese women wear the cheongsam, a one-piece dress with a high collar, diagonally closed with small clips; Indian women wear a saree; and Orang Asal (collective term for the indigenous people of Malaysia) women traditionally wore clothing made from natural materials.

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, mounted on circular black wooden base. Body, limbs and head formed of nylon covered wire. Dressed in black wide legged trousers with a fine white stripe and a matching shirt. Green and red checked apron and red velvet fez. The doll is carrying two containers hanging from a pole over his shoulder.
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 24.00 cm (Height), 15.50 cm (Width), 6.50 cm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: clothing, souvenirs, cultural beliefs, dolls, national costumes, children s play, national identity, cultural awareness, asian dolls
Themes this item is part of: Muslim Collections at Museum Victoria, Childhood & Youth Collection, Clothing & Textiles Collection
Primary Classification: CULTURAL IDENTITY
Secondary Classification: Ethnicity - Clothing
Tertiary Classification: national dolls
Inscriptions: "Malaysia / Food Hawker" (-handwritten on attached white tag)
Place Made: Malaysia, circa 1977
User: Mrs Monica Gates, Victoria, Australia, circa 1970s-1990s
Other Association (See Comments): Malaysia

Doll intended to represent a Malaysian food hawker, most likely a Malay woman as she appears to be wearing a baju kurung.

Add your comment

  • Museum Victoria does not provide valuations, for more information please visit the valuation infosheet
  • Please note that Museum Victoria staff will not normally respond to comments posted on our website.
Yes No