Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Ashes Doll - Зольная кукла

Hi all,

You have already seen a picture with Ashes dolls in my very first blog entry, I will tell you a bit more about this doll.

All in all the Traditional Russian Dolls can be split in three large groups:
  • the Ward dolls (обереги) - the dolls made for protection of a person or a household, made eventually on specific occasion. 
  • the Rite dolls - dolls made and/or used for special occasions, especially linked to the seasonal rites
  • the Play dolls - playing dolls
 Of course, the line between all three can sometimes be fairly fine.

So, Ashes doll is an archaic ward doll and linked to the ancient cult of ashes.
Back to early Iron Age, sort of 3000 years ago, the household aches were not dispersed anywhere but collected in a single Ashes pile of the village or a house.
The Ashes pile became with time a symbol of the household. Hard to disagree that the bigger and richer and older is the household, the bigger Ashes pile shall be.

Making a doll with ashes from the Ashes pile had indeed a ritual and mystical meaning.

These are the heads of the Doll and the Baby (funnily called гусеничка or "a small caterpillar") made of ashes, humidified and dried, so they become stone hard. This doll is a rare, if not the only one of Traditional Dolls, that does not have any head cover, neither hair nor clothes. This "boldness" gives the doll a strong specific energy, sort of saying that there are other more important things than dressing conventions.

Ashes doll was given to the just married with the wishes of prosperity (which is counted not that much by the material richness but rather by the number of children).

Calling for the blessing and protective force of the home fire, a mother would give this doll to her marrying daughter, when she was leaving to the new husband's house and family. Such doll with home ashes were a blessing and support in a far, not always friendly place. Similarly, a woman would make an Ashes doll as a protection charm to her husband, when he was leaving the house for busiess or war.

Ashes doll could also be made with ashes from a rite fire, for example on St John's day on Midsummer Day on Summer solstice.

Finally, using ashes as a hard material was accessible to any family and plenty of Play dolls could be made on the same principle as Ashes doll. The Play ashes dolls could be made as the fantasy calls: simple or decorated, with accessories or without.


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