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Who Invented Dolls

who invented dolls

Dolls have been around for quite some time, they can even be dated back to Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman ears. There were even archaeological evidence that makes dolls as the oldest known toys. But when it comes to identifying the first inventor of dolls, no one ever knows. Simply put, we’ll never know who really created dolls.

The earliest dolls were made from materials such as clay, wood, stone, bone, ivory and leather or wax. Archeological finds suggest that dolls were popular playthings for little girls in ancient Greece. There were even dolls found in graves of Roman children. It has been suggested that newly wed women in ancient Greece and Rome offered their dolls to different goddesses.

Dolls are more than just toys in some cultures. Many of these cultures had used dolls as a manifestation of spiritual and ritual values. These dolls still exist even to this day like the akuaba which are fertility dolls from Ghana and other nearby areas.

Traditional Dolls

One perfect example of traditional dolls is the Inuit doll. These dolls are made from soapstone and bone. They were dressed with animal fur and skin in traditional Inuit style of dress necessary to survive the harsh cold weather.

The corn husk dolls is part of Native American traditions. These dolls are traditionally faceless and made from dried leaves or husk of a corncob. European settlers adopted corn husk dolls and by the 1860's after the Civil War, the United States have already started the doll making industry.

Russian dolls or also known as Matryoshka dolls were the traditional dolls that portray peasants and are made up of hollow wooden figure sets that open up and nest inside each other.

Until the 19th century, wood had been the most common material used to make dolls in Europe. Since then, it has been mixed with other materials such as leather, wax and porcelain. The bodies were made even more articulated and defined.

The Era of Industrialization

Dolls have been massed produced since the introduction of plastics and polymer which completely transformed the entire manufacturing industry. These materials are cheaper, easier to work with and last longer which resulted in dolls being made affordable to the masses.

The first fashion dolls were made during the mid-19th century and were known as the French bisque dolls. In 1959, Ruth Handler, an American inventor, introduced the Barbie doll. Barbie was named after Handler’s daughter Barbara and became an iconic doll. It was not designed like any other dolls but rather in an adult body. The inspiration was from a collector’s item German-made Bild Lilli Doll. Barbie was the first fashion doll that quickly became a huge success worldwide. Ken, Barbie’s boyfriend, was later introduced in 1961.

In 2006, Bratz created by Carter Bryant was the first to challenge Barbie’s dominance.

With the advancement in technology, custom dolls have now been designed using computer and 3D printing. However, due to environmental concerns about the adverse effects of plastics on the environment, there has been a recent increase in demand for more traditional dolls like rag dolls and wooden peg dolls.

RELATED: How Dolls Are Made

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