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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Corn Dollies

As many of you know, I am a doll collector with a large collection planning a museum, hence my blogs Dr. E's Doll Museum and Doll Museum. I will probaly copy this information there as well. I love the most unusual dolls best; corn dollies fit into that category. Many are not even of human shape; they are abstract, many circular or triangular, two geometric shapes associate with women's bodies. They play a role in the harvest festival, and often were kept in the home for one year, then burned, and a new doll was displayed. I first read about them in Volume D, "Dolls" of the 1956 World Book Encyclopedia. Among my other collections, I collect Volume D and other doll related volumes of old sets of encyclopedias Von Boehn, Laura Starr, Mary Hillier, and Leslie Gordon also write about them, and they are featured in books on crafts and Wicca. There is a book that comes up on Google images, too. Below is a history from a site in Wales that I was very impressed with. They also sell. Enjoy reading this timely and seasonal piece about a beloved craft.
A little bit of Folklore
SHORT HISTORY Corn dollies date back to pagan times. Straw symbols, such as corn dollies or the harvest maid have always been associated with the gathering in of the crops. They were made in the field from the last sheaf, and many different designs came about from various areas.
In the early part of the 19thC, English farmers in rural areas were carrying out ceremonies of which the original meaning was completely lost. Eg: the worship of the goddess of the corn. The art of making the corn dolly was handed down from father to son, and the whole ceremony ended with the triumphant return of the last load with the corn dolly held in the arms of the prettiest girl in the village. It was then hung up in the farmhouse until the following year. There are many variations of this story.
Corn dollies made from wheat, is what the peoples of the British Isles call “corn”, it has deep pagan symbolic roots. Corn dollies are given for many occasions. A rattle could be given for the birth of a child or for a naming ceremony (christening). There are many House Blessings which make a lovely gift at any time, especially for Weddings and people moving house. Corn dollies seem to be getting more popular with a different variety of uses, for eg: Wearing the dollies hanging on belts, or decorating a hat with, wearing them as necklaces or bracelets or brooches, you can easily modify them for your own personal use, Harpers & Queen used my dollies in a photo shoot. Country Homes & Garden displayed one of my dollies in their October 2006 issue. World of Interiors magazine May 2009 has one of my Harvest Mothers on display. The traditional corn dolly often called a `Nek` is one I recommend for fertility, all though all corn dollies are connected to fertility and our mother the earth. The Harvest Mother is very symbolic of Mother Earth and often used in pagan or wicca rituals. Scottish TV has used my corn dollies in childrens programmes. Diva Opera Company has used one of my dollies in their production of Eugene Onegin by Tchaikowsky. It was used in the scene where the peasants come in from Harvest and they present the dolly to the owner of the estate. If you go to Jamie Olivers restaurant Fifteen's Trattoria you should find a couple of my dollies hanging up amongst the dried chillies. A collection of my dollies were used for the London and Paris Fashion Show September 2009 for Designer Vivienne Westwood. best; corn dollies fit into that category. Many are not even of human shape; they are abstract, many circular or triangular, two geometric shapes associate with women's bodies. They play a role in the harvest festival, and often were kept in the home for one year, then burned, and a new doll was displayed. I first read about them in Volume D, "Dolls" of the 1956 World Book Encyclopedia. Among my other collections, I collect Volume D and other doll related volumes of old sets of encyclopedias Von Boehn, Laura Starr, Mary Hillier, and Leslie Gordon also write about them, and they are featured in books on crafts and Wicca. There is a book that comes up on Google images, too. Below is a history from a site in Wales that I was very impressed with. They also sell. Enjoy reading this timely and seasonal piece about a beloved craft.

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