All dolled up: All about Gu­ata­malan worry dolls

Chat It's Fate - - Contents -

Worry dolls ( muneca quitapena in Span­ish) orig­i­nate from Gu­atemala, the home of the an­cient Mayan civ­i­liza­tion and one-time cul­tural cen­tre of the Amer­i­cas. Tiny lit­tle things mea­sur­ing just a few cen­time­tres, made from scraps of bright fab­ric and of­ten dressed in tra­di­tional Mayan cloth­ing, tra­di­tion­ally they’re given to chil­dren who are strug­gling with night­mares, hav­ing a tough time at school, or gen­er­ally ex­pe­ri­enc­ing high lev­els of anx­i­ety.

The child with the prob­lem is handed a lit­tle box or pouch con­tain­ing six dolls by her mother or a close rel­a­tive.

Each night, just be­fore bed­time, the child takes a doll and whis­pers her wor­ries to it. She asks that the worry doll will take away her suf­fer­ing and heal all of her prob­lems, then pops the doll un­der her pil­low.

In the morn­ing, when the child wakes up, the doll is gone – and so are her wor­ries! How­ever, she does the same thing ev­ery night for a week, just to be on the safe side – apart from on Sun­day, the day of rest.

Gu­ata­malans be­lieve the doll ab­sorbs the wor­ries, so they’re of­ten thrown away af­ter use – this sym­bol­ises the act of let­ting one’s fears or wor­ries go.

In­creas­ingly, these gor­geous lit­tle dolls are used all round the world – and by adults, too. You can buy them off Ama­zon, or you can make your own (see box­out on p21). But could they help you? Let’s see...


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