engelbert doll-fuss



A doll is an object that represents a baby or other human being, but includes likenesses of animals and imaginary creatures. Dolls have been around since the dawn of human civilization, and have been fashioned from a vast array of materials, ranging from stone, clay, wood, bone, cloth and paper, to porcelain, china, rubber and plastic.

While dolls have traditionally been toys for children, they are also collected by adults, for their nostalgic value, beauty, historical importance or financial value. In ancient times, dolls were used as representations of a deity, and played a central role in religious ceremonies and rituals. Lifelike or anatomically correct dolls are used by health professionals, medical schools and social workers to train doctors and nurses in various health procedures or investigate cases of sexual abuse of children. Artists sometimes use jointed wooden mannequins in drawing the human figure. Action figures representing superheroes and their predecessors, action dolls, are particularly popular among boys. Baby dolls, paper dolls, talking dolls, fashion dolls - the list is almost endless.


Archaeological evidence places dolls as foremost candidate for oldest known toy, having been found in Egyptian tombs which date to as early as 2000 BC. In Egypt, as well as Greece and Rome, it was common to find them in the graves of children. Most were made of wood, although pottery dolls were buried with children from wealthier families. Dolls with movable limbs and removable clothing date back to 200 BCE.

Europe later became the center of dollmaking. In the United States, dollmaking became an industry in the 1860s, after the Civil War. The development of plastics after World War II led to the manufacture of new types of dolls and brought down their price.

Today, the Internet has introduced virtual dolls which can be designed, dressed up, and played with on web sites such as Stardoll, which has 17 million members.

Dolls have featured in modern art and fine art photography, notably in surrealist works. The "evil doll" has been a feature of horror literature, horror films and animation since the 1950s.

Gender difference in the selection of dolls

Within western society, a gender difference in the selection of toys has been observed and studied. Action figures are particular popular with boys because they represent traditional masculine traits and are closed associated with the public sphere which is represented by items such as tools, transportation, garages, machines, and military equipment. Toys generically referred to as dolls are seen as representing the feminine traits and the private sphere which contains items such as kitchen appliances, utensils,furniture, clothes and jewelry


Dolls over the ages have been made from every conceivable material: bisque, celluloid, china, clay, cloth, corn husks, paper, plastic, polymer clay, porcelain, resin, rubber, vinyl, wax, wood, bone, ivory, papier-mâché, leather etc.

Doll hospitals

Repair and restoration of antique and other dolls is carried out at doll hospitals, many of which have been operating for decades. Henri Launay, who has been repairing dolls at his shop in northeast Paris for 43 years, says he has restored over 30,000 dolls in the course of his career. Most of the clients are not children, but adults in their 50s and 60s.

Collectors' items

Antique dolls have become collector's items. Nineteenth-century bisque dolls made by French manufacturers such as Bru and Jumeau may be worth almost $22,000 today. Sporting event give-away bobblehead dolls and action figures from McFarlane Toys have also become popular collector's items.

Dolls as art

Dolls have always been created as folk art in cultures around the globe, and in the 20th century, dolls began to be accepted as high art. Artist Hans Bellmer made surrealistic dolls that had interchangeable limbs in 1930s and 1940s Germany as opposition to the Nazi party's idolization of a perfect Aryan body. East Village artist Greer Lankton became famous in the 1980s for her theatrical window displays using lifesize dolls and took the art of doll making to a new level, creating distressed, drug addicted, anorexic and mutant dolls charged with an edgy sexuality.

Famous types of dolls

Festivals and Exhibits

Doll museums and collections

See also


History of paper dolls -

External links

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