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A Mothering/Fertility Slavic Textile Doll

by Yulia Welk, CCE, BWI

Crafts can serve a role of ritual, strength and healing through working with mental images, fabric and old handmade Russian tradition of making charm dolls.

I have been making Russian traditional fabric dolls for five years now, they are very numerous and unique (check my Instagram at yulia_welk).  I currently have an exhibit of 25 dolls at the local library (Drummond Public Library, Wisconsin).

A couple of them historically are devoted to the subject of fertility, pregnancy and mothering.  In the dolls, besides making the head, body and dress, we also make breasts as an important symbol of nourishment for future babies and having enough gut, energy, strength, responsibility and health for tackling those tasks.

These dolls serve as visual guides for girls’ passage into womanhood.  The dress represents the ancient way of dressing for girls and women, as a collector of feminine energy that comes from the earth, being a creator, materializer, and having grounding aspects of femininity.

The second doll is called Pregnancy Doll.  She is made with colorful fabrics (red shades are important as being the charm, protective color that also represents life, blood, and energy needed for carrying the baby in the womb.   The doll has a belly with a real baby doll wrapped inside.  A woman would make a little girl or boy fabric baby, wrap it in the pink fabric, cover with the roll of birth bark and wrap in in the belly of the pregnant doll.

This doll serves as charm, protection and concentration of positive vibes for women.  Making it, women would talk about fears, concerns, birth and mothering.  The doll is publicly displayed until the baby is born.  If the outcome is a healthy happy baby this doll becomes a family, a clan female harm, that is inherited and used for future generations.  If anyone is interested in learning how to make these useful charms (we can do it online, $25 per person), please contact me through my website:  www.yulias.net or my home number 1-715-798-3175.