11 April 2014

Doll-like objects

These are children's dolls made by the Nenets tribe in north-western Russia -
What do you think their heads are made of? The label at the Polar Museum in Cambridge reads: "Dolls are made from the upper bill of a duck or goose, with the beak representing a person's head. Along with carved wooden reindeer and miniature sledges, children use beak dolls to enact scenes of everyday life such as lassoing reindeer or migrating to a new campsite. Beaks are obtained in May during the spring hunting season when ducks and geese from southern regions (including Britain) fly to nest in the tundra. There they constitute the main diet for herders at a season when reindeer meat is scarce, as reindeer are not slaughtered in the calving season."

Less exotic are these figures seen recently in Selfridges -
They're designed by Alexander Girard (1907-93), who designed much else, including textiles for Ray and Charles Eames. He had an extensive folk art collection (now housed in Santa Fe), and obviously loved colour and pattern. The year before his death, he gave the contents of his studio to the Vitra Design Museum.

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