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EMMA studying a few of my dolls
during a visit to my home.

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Emma has now returned from Mexico and Guatemala and is at the moment, at a crucial stage of her studying, with a deadline to meet.  She is very keen to start up-dating this page for you, and is hoping to start towards the end of January.  I can assure you that it will be well worth waiting for!

(at a recent visit to my home)

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(With kind permission of Emma Jackson). 
This page will consist of Mexican and Guatemalan dolls belonging to my friend Emma (from the U.K.).  
Emma is currently working on a PhD. for Mexican and Guatemalan dolls. 

As I feel these dolls are special, I thought I would give them a page of their own, and Emma will add more pictures and information about Mexican and Guatemalan dolls and those countries, on here in due course. 

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Hand made by Maya, but  from Chiapas,
the southern-most State of Mexico.

Information by Emma Jackson:
This doll was made by women from San Juan Chamula in Chiapas.  These women are Tzotzil Maya (ie, they speak the Tzotzil language, which is one branch of the Maya language group).  The doll’s clothing is a pretty good representation of traditional Chamula female dress (traje) since it is made from scraps of material from which Chamula women make their own skirts.  Chamula skirts are made from very thick felted wool and they are made from scratch by Chamula women.  These skirts are immensely significant items of clothing since they require a huge amount of effort to make.  In fact, Chamula women raise their own sheep, which they shear to produce the wool. The wool is then washed, dried and carded, and then hand spun into thread with a spindle and whorl.  The thread is then dyed black by using a local plant called huele de noche which is boiled in water with black earth for several days. The dyed, black thread is then handwoven on a back-strap loom, which requires the women to make the loom itself before they can even begin to weave.  Eventually, they produce a woven section of fabric that forms the basis of the skirt.  Finally, the finished section of fabric is washed in order to shrink and felt it.  All in all, these skirts can take approximately eight months to make!!  Finally, since Chamula women carry out this lengthy process in the domestic environment, along with raising their children, cooking and other domestic duties, this garment symbolises the traditional identity of the Chamula female.  

Driven by poverty, Chamula women started to make dolls clothed in miniature versions of their own dress in the 1970s to sell to tourists. 


This doll is actually a variation of the Chamula doll described above.  He represents a member of the Zapatistas, or, to give them their full name - the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, or, the EZLN, for short.  The Zapatistas mainly comprise members of several different indigenous groups from the state of Chiapas - a state marked by crushing poverty and a huge gap between rich and poor.  The group came to prominence at the beginning of 1994 and promotes indigenous control of land and other resources and it is opposed to some policies of the Mexican state.  Although, initially, the group was involved in military combat against the Mexican state, they quickly realised that non-military “war” conducted through the media and through the use of symbols, such as ski masks, was a more effective way of representing their cause and winning public support.

After the emergence of the Zapatistas, the weavers and doll makers of San Juan Chamula modified their dolls by adding ski masks and wooden guns.  These dolls can be found in Zapatista Co-operative shops where the sale proceeds are used to raise funds for Zapatista social projects.

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Featured in the book: 
("Maya Threads: A woven History of Chiapas")
By Janet Schwartz.

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(A demonstration on making a traditional Guatemalan hat)
Photos by:  Emma Jackson.

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