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National Doll - Tanzanian, Drummer, circa 1976 Object Reg. No: SH 940281

National doll produced as a souvenir of Africa, it was purchased for Monica Gates in Africa in 1976 on the way to the Serengeti region which extends from north-western Tanzania to south-western Kenya and covers approximately 30,000 km2. This carved wooden doll has been made to represent an African drummer. The Makonde are the best-known wood carvers in Tanzania, using African black wood to create intricate figures, scenes and groups. This simple figure would have been produced for the tourist trade and is not representative of the carving style of a particular group.

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.
Carved wooden doll playing a drum which it holds between its knees. Crossed over its chest are two bands of white beads. It also has similar white beads around its ankles and waist. The neck is decorated with a thick wire necklace. It has a headpiece made of cream feathers. The entire doll appears to be carved from a single block of wood.
Discipline: History
Dimensions: 26.00 cm (Height), 4.50 cm (Width), 4.00 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: Identity: Yours, Mine, Ours, Immigration Museum Exhibition, 2011-2021, Childhood & Youth Collection, Clothing & Textiles Collection
Primary Classification: CULTURAL IDENTITY
Secondary Classification: Ethnicity - Clothing
Tertiary Classification: national dolls
Place & Date Made: Tanzania, circa 1978
User: Mrs Monica Gates, Frankston, Victoria, Australia, circa 1976-1990
Place Depicted: Tanzania

Doll is carved as a representation of an African tribesman, with the drum, feathered headdress and beading.

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