Doll

Object Details

Title:

Doll

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown

Culture:

Greek

Place(s):

Greece (Place created)

Date:

5th century B.C.

Medium:

Terracotta

Dimensions:

13.5 cm (5 5/16 in.)

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Dolls were common throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. In the 500s B.C., Greek artisans began to produce a distinctive form of terracotta doll with separately-made arms and legs, which were attached with string. Unlike today's baby-dolls, these dolls always represent adult women. They have short tunics painted on their torso and this example retains traces of red paint. This doll has simple mitten-shaped hands, but many others carry krotala or castanet-like instruments.

Archaeologists find these jointed terracotta dolls in children's graves and in religious sanctuaries. Ancient writers suggest that, just before their marriage, girls would dedicate dolls and other toys to various goddesses. Some scholars, however, think that these terracotta dolls were not the toys referred to by the writers. They think that this doll's primary purpose was religious. The dolls would have been hung as charms, with the movement and noise of their swinging arms and legs meant to scare off evil spirits. Their placement in graves and sanctuaries would have been connected with this protective role.

Provenance
- 1974

Jerome M. Eisenberg (New York, New York), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1974.

Exhibitions
Coming of Age in Ancient Greece: Images of Childhood from the Classical Past (August 23, 2003 to December 5, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), September 14 to December 5, 2004
Bibliography

J.C. McKeown. Grece, un cabinet de curiosities, Contes etranges et faits surprenants du berceau de la civilisation occidentale. (Paris: Editions Bibliomane, 2014). p. 38.