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The Ruth E. Aten World Doll Collection: Asia

This list, with accompanying photos, contains dolls from various areas of Asia.

Eastern Asia

EAsia1. China. The Monkey King (Sun Wu kung) Puppet. 13 ½” Painted wood face and very colorful costume of satin and fur. The puppet is holding a staff and can swing it around. 

The Monkey King (Sun Wu kung) Puppet, China

EAsia2. Shaanxi, China. Donkey. 6 ½ “ Black silk print cloth with red embroidered saddle, red yarn tip tail. Given by Sue Tuohy (student>faculty). 1990

Donkey, Shaanxi, China

EAsia3. Tianjin, China. Contemporary Chinese Couple. 7” Chinese couple on a stand.  Male is playing a steel guitar and female is dancing. Dolls are cloth over wire frame dressed in current rock style. Given by Sue Tuohy (student>faculty). 1990

Contemporary Chinese Couple, Tianjin, China

EAsia4. Uighur, China. Wooden Hand Painted Male and Female Dolls. 4 ¼“ Set of two dolls. Mark: “Xingiong, China.” Given by Nathan Light and Lynn Hammer (students). 1993

Wooden Hand Painted Male and Female Dolls, Uighur, China

EAsia5. Kyoto, Japan. Kokeshi Doll. 5” Hand carved and painted wooden doll. These types of dolls are popular souvenir dolls. Mark: “For Ruth w/love Henry & Pravina, Kyoto,  Japan 12/01.” Given by Pravina Shukla (faculty) and Henry Glassie (faculty). 2001

Kokeshi Dolls
The making of Kokeshi dolls is a folk art that has been around for centuries and emerged from the Tohoku region of northeastern Japan. It is believed that they were originally made to sell to tourists and later grew in belief that possessing a Kokeshi doll assures a good harvest. The dolls are simple lathe made wooden cylinders with no arms and legs and are made from all types of wood. The original dolls were simple and unpainted, but present dolls are brightly, detailed painted and come in all forms of design, color, and shape. As displayed in the following dolls, many are embellished with straw and wooden hair.

Kokeshi Doll, Kyoto, Japan

EAsia6. China. Wood and Straw Doll. 6” Wood body, straw hair, painting of Chinaman on body. Given by Sue Tuohy (student>faculty).

Wood and Straw Doll, China

EAsia7. Japan. Kokeshi Doll. 4 ½“ Hand painted wood doll. Given by Henry Glassie (faculty).  1994

Kokeshi Doll, Japan

EAsia8. Japan. Wooden Doll. 3 ½“ Slender, male, hand painted wooden doll. Given by John Johnson (faculty). 1993

Wooden Doll, Japan

EAsia9. Japan. Kokeshi Dolls (Set of 8.). 3 ½“ Eight different hand painted wooden and crafted dolls. Mark: Each doll has a tag: “Made in China”. Given by Linda Degh (faculty). 1999

Kokeshi Dolls, Japan

EAsia10. Japan. Japanese Corn Husk Doll. 10” Hand made corn hust doll and hand made box. Given by Patricia Hardwick (student). Patricia wrote: “Handmade doll made by artist friend, Reiko, studying at IU. This doll is unique since the doll is made in Bloomington, Indiana, and is made of materials from Indiana (corn husks), but still incorporates a traditional Japanese design. 1999

Japanese Corn Husk Doll, Japan

EAsia11. China. Bobble Head China Dolls. 3 ½“ (Set of 2). Male and female hand-painted ceramic dolls. Heads are attached with a neck of spiral wire to make heads wobble. Given by Sue Tuohy (student>faculty).

Bobble Head China Dolls, China

EAsia12. China. Tribal Figures. 2” Set of 10 ceramic figures each hand-painted depicting their individual tribal and village dress. Given by Sue Tuohy (student>faculty) from one of her many research trips to China.

Tribal Figures, China

EAsia13. Insa-dong, Seoul, S. Korea. Korean Wedding Couple. 3 ½”  Set of 2. Wooden figures painted traditional wedding dress. Given by Roger Janelli (faculty). 1990s

Korean Wedding Couple, Insa-dong, Seoul, South Korea

EAsia14. Shanghai, China. Acrobatic Souvenir Doll. 5” Aqua silk stuffed body with painted faceTag: “New Shang Hai Circus.” “I purchased this doll in Branson, MO as a souvenir from the incredible New Shanghai Circus performed by young acrobats of China.  One of the acrobats carried the title of the youngest Olympic gold medalist and she signed the doll.”   Given by Ruth Aten. 2002

Acrobatic Souvenir Doll, Shanghai, China

EAsia15. China. Small Chinese Couple. 1 ½” Small boy and girl souvenir dolls dressed in silk, holding hands and on a string. 

Small Chinese Couple

EAsia16. Hida Region, Japan. Sarubobo. 7” Sarubobo (baby monkey). Stuffed doll sitting on pillow. The doll has a red cloth body and is faceless with a black head scarf. The costume and pillow have matching patterns. Given by Hiro Hashimoto (Visiting Research Associate). Hiro wrote, “Grandmothers made dolls for children to play with. Similar figures were used in rituals.” 1997

Sarubobo, Hida Region, Japan

EAsia17. China. Chinese Theatre Doll. 14” Elaborate fabric Chinese doll dressed in a detailed theater costume. Costume is silk with detailed hand-painted flowers and design. Cape is made of layered green string. She has an ornate hat and black fiber hair. Given by Sue Tuohy (student>faculty). 1980s

Chinese Theatre Doll

EAsia18. China. Chinese Hand Puppet. 11” Molded composition painted head, hands, and feet. The puppet is dressed in a purple and red silk traditional costume. He is holding flags in both hands. Given by Sue Tuohy, (student>faulty). Sue brought this doll back from her first research trip to China. 1980s

Chinese Hand Puppet

EAsia19. Tibet, China. Porcelain Tibetan Girl. 10 ½” Beautiful doll with porcelain head and hands. She has a detailed traditional dress, long black fiber hair with elaborate jeweled headband, green and gold brocade dress, red sleeves with flowered trim and a striped apron. Doll is carrying a white ribbonBox included. Tag: “Zhang Zu.” Given by Ruth Stone on a trip to China. 2004

Porcelain Tibetan Girl, Tibet, China

EAsia20. Northern Japan. Wood Carving of “Spring.” 4 ½” This figure is a carved stained wood statue depicting “Spring”. Accompanying sign saying “Spring.” Given by Takashi Takahara (student). 1991

Wood Carving of "Spring," Northern Japan

EAsia21. Japan. Japanese Licca Doll. 10 ½” Vinyl Japanese fashion doll created in 1967 by the Takara manufacturing company. She is the Japanese version of the Barbie doll. Just like the U.S.A. Barbie, this doll is very popular as a play doll and also highly sought after by doll collectors. She comes in many outfits and a wide range of prices. Licca has rooted hair and is dressed in a traditional kimono in original box. Given by Linda Adams Spetter (student). 1999

Japanese Licca Doll

EAsia22. Taiwan, China. Taiwanese Traditional Hand Puppet. 11” Beautifully detailed hand puppet with red flowered silk dress and elaborate head décor. Tag: “Taiwanese Traditional Hand Puppet. Hand Pullet Theatre was devised some 3 centuries ago in South China. They are so called because they are controlled entirely by the puppeteer’s hand, which is inserted inside. The traditional puppet is about 26cm which is the most suitable size for hand to control. The movements and gestures of puppet can be very vivid and intricate.” Given by Ruth Aten. 2000

Taiwanese Traditional Hand Puppet

EAsia23. Korea. Korean Couple in Case. 6 ½” Detailed handmade male and female Korean dolls with bright colored silk traditional dress. Dolls are sitting in display case with oriental painted screen in the background. Tag; “Made in Korea.”

Korean Couple in Case

EAsia24. Korea. Korean Bride. 10” Korean lady in traditional bridal dress with bright silks and gold trim. Given by Jungsung Yang (student). 1994

Korean Bride

EAsia25. Korea. Korean Lady. 10” Korean lady in traditional dress with silk striped sleeves and red and gold trim skirt. Given by Jungsung Yang (student). 1991

Korean Lady

EAsia26. Japan. Hand Puppet. 11 ½” Hand theatre puppet with angry green face, black beard, gold silk kimono over red pants, black boots. Given by John Johnson (faculty). 2000

Hand Puppet, Japan

EAsia27. Japan. Japanese Geisha Girl. 6 ½” Small Japanese doll in traditional geisha dress or flowered red and gold silks. Given by Syd Grant (staff). 1980s

Japanese Geisha Girl

EAsia28. Japan. Jenny Doll. 10” Vinyl fashion doll with blonde rooted hair dressed in a pink satin dress with bows. Doll is in a box and is the Japanese version of the U.S.A. Barbie doll. Just like the U.S.A. Barbie, this doll is very popular as a play doll and also highly sought after by doll collectors. She comes in many outfits and a wide range of prices. She is in her original box. It should be noted that keeping the doll in the box increases her value for collectors. Read the box for poorly translated English version. Some translation of back of box: “Jenny’s Profile, BD Aug 1, 17 year’s old, 15 cc high, 45 kg – 112.5.” Given by Linda Adams Spetter (students). 1999

Jenny Doll, Japan

EAsia29. China. Marionette. 9” Marionette with flags and dressed in green silk outfit with red collar and pink and yellow apron with fringe. Given by Sue Tuohy (student>faculty). 1980s

Marionette, China

EAsia30. China. Chinaman. 13” Very old stuffed doll with straw hat and blue suit. Face is embroidered and ears are molded. Given by Ruth Aten.


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South-Eastern Asia

SEAsia1. Indonesia, Javanese. Puppet. 15” Detailed Wayang Gedek hand- painted puppet. Wood base with printed (batik) sarong. Puppet is a refined (halus) male character. Purchased in Malaca, Malaysia by Patricia Hardwick (student). 1998

Puppet, Indonesia

SEAsia2. Chang-Mai, Northern Thailand. Mother Holding Baby. 14” Large porcelain beautifully detailed dressed female holding baby. Dress: black fabric base with ornate ribbon and cross-stitch bright green, orange, and pink trim. Doll has ornate hat with silver trim and red yarn top.  Doll has lots of silver jewelry and trim. Given by Patricia Hardwick  (student). Patricia wrote: “Hill Tribe; white Hmong-Chang Mai (large porcelain doll w/baby) wearing traditional costume.” 2001

Mother Holding Baby, Chang-Mai, Northern Thailand

SEAsia3. Thailand. Thai Marionette. 19” Large classic marionette, elaborate costume made of sequins, gold and glass trim. Marionette is made of wood with moveable joints for puppet movement. Given by Patricia Hardwick (student). Patricia wrote: “I purchased this doll in Chang Mai, Thailand. This puppet made in classical Thai style by Burma (Myanmar) craftsman. Burma is the old name for the country now officially known as Myanmar.” 2001

Thai Marionette

SEAsia4. Indonesia. Mouse Doll. 15” Batik print cloth mouse. Mouse has a zipper and converts to a purse. Given by Pravina Shukla (faculty). Pravina gave the doll to Ruth as a thanks for showing her around campus during her interview visit. Pravina wrote, “Ruth—In celebration of my now official status as folklore faculty, I send you an addition to your doll collection, from Indonesia via the American Museum of Natural History in New York city! She has one kind of funky leg, but that’s what makes her special. Thank you for all your help, and I look forward to a wonderful friendship. Love, Pravina.“ 2000

Mouse Doll, Indonesia

SEAsia5. Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia. Bajau Laut Doll. 6” Doll is in plastic case. Given by Patricia Hardwick (student). Patricia describes the doll: “Bajau Laut – (sea) Bajau. Her sarong is Songket.  Songket is an elaborate woven fabric of silk and gold brocade generally worn for weddings and by royalty. Muslim from an ethnic group that spans from Borneo – Sabah to the Philippians. Sea Bajau have a legend (The Bajau Laute are sea faring people who lived on boats only coming ashore occasionally) – they used to have encampments near Jahore, Malaysia – one day a prominent member of the community was fishing and hooked a whale that pulled them all the way to their current home of kg Bangau-Bangou, Sampornah Sabah. They perform dances on boats and land for weddings.” 2005

Bajau Laut Doll, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

SEAsia6. Indonesia. Indonesian Woman. 8 ½” Plastic doll in traditional dress of purple top and plaid bottom. Doll has a gold necklace and arm bracelets and flower in black fiber hair. On the stand: “Sulsel.” Given by Margaret Neal (Ruth’s Aunt). 1998

Indonesian Woman
SEAsia7. Chang-Mai, Northern Thailand. Thailand Doll. 9” Handmade cloth doll with painted face and loop earrings. She is in traditional dress in black with blue trim costume, red pom-poms around the neck, and a black hat. Originally from Southern China. Purchased in Chung-Mai, Thailand by Patricia Hardwick (student). Patricia writes: “The Loa are an ethnic group that originated in Southern China and migrated to North Thailand. Loa is an ethnic group, one of the Hill tribe of Northern Thailand.” 2001 Thailand Doll, Chang-Mai, Northern Thailand

SEAsia8. Indonesia. Javanese Wayang Puppet. 24” Detailed Wayang (theater) Golek or rod puppet. Wood base with traditional printed (batik) and embellished costume with sequins. Puppet is a refined (Alus) male character. Wayang is an ancient form of puppet theatre dating back in Southeast Asian to the fist century CE. This form of puppet theatre is still a very popular form of entertainment and the puppets are considered a folk art made by master puppeteers. Given by Lina Hallman (Ruth’s niece who is from Indonesia). 2007

Javanese Wayang Puppet

SEAsia9. Indonesia. Javanese Wayang Punokawan Puppet.  19”  The Punokawan is the character of the clown servant of the hero from the Wayang (theatre). He is a wood rod puppet with a red painted face and hands and a typical pug nose. His costume is a batik head wrap, a cotton black top, plaid skirt and plaid sash. He carries an instrument that looks like a sword. Given by Sue Colley (Ruth’s sister). 2007

Javanese Wayang Punokawan Puppet

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Southern Asia

SAsia1. Punjab, India. Woman Grinding Wheat. 5 ½“ Molded female with red cloth dress, blue/green trim, yellow scarf and gold jewelry and trim on head and outfit. The doll is in a sitting position and is grinding wheat. Given by Deeksha Nagar (student). 1997

Woman Grinding Wheat, Punjab, India

SAsia2. India. Small Straw Dolls. Four straw dolls in a bagGiven by Deeksha Nagar (student).  2002

Small Straw Dolls, India

SAsia3. Bangladesh. Handmade Paper Doll. 3 ½“ Paper doll and matching box. Doll and description from Ten Thousand Villages, Richmond, VA: “Bangladeshi handmade paper items—writing paper, cards and books—are crafted by widowed, abandoned or divorced women in Mennonite Central Committee employment projects. Scraps are from local jute mills within Bangladesh. Other paper is made using water hyacinth, a weed that is choking Bangladesh’s waterways. Fibers are beaten down into a pulp that is floated in a large tub of water. The pulp is collected on a hand-held screen until a thin even sheet of paper is formed.  It is transferred to a steel sheet, dried in the sun, and peeled from the sheet. The paper is then cut to shape and size. Most of it is either bleached or dyed, using environmentally safe compounds. Rag and other fibers are added to give color and improve strength and smoothness.” Given by Susan Oehler (student). 2000 

Handmade Paper Doll, Bangladesh

SAsia4. India. Small Handmade Doll. 2 ½“ Wire base male doll with cloth shirt. Tag: “Gujrathi, made in India”. Given by Erin Roth (staff). 2000

Small Handmade Doll, India

SAsia5. (Photo SAsia5A). Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India. Topsy Turvy Puppet. 10 ½” Detailed man and women topsy turvy puppet with painted carved heads and elaborate Indian print costumes. Given by Henry Glassie and Pravina Shukla (faculty) from one of their research trips to India. The male puppet resembles Henry with the mustache and the women  resembles Pravina with the elaborate jewelry. This is a fun doll. They wrote: “City: Jaisalmer, State: Rajasthan, Country: India, Made by local puppeteers’ family, Kerati Ram Bhatt. Man: Rana Man Singh, Woman: Court Dancer. Given with lots of love to Ruth, by Henry and Pravina.” 2000s

Topsy Turvy Puppet, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India
SAsia5. (Photo SAsia5B). Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India. Topsy Turvy Puppet. 10 ½” Detailed man and women topsy turvy puppet with painted carved heads and elaborate Indian print costumes. Given by Henry Glassie and Pravina Shukla (faculty) from one of their research trips to India. The male puppet resembles Henry with the mustache and the women  resembles Pravina with the elaborate jewelry. This is a fun doll. They wrote: “City: Jaisalmer, State: Rajasthan, Country: India, Made by local puppeteers’ family, Kerati Ram Bhatt. Man: Rana Man Singh, Woman: Court Dancer. Given with lots of love to Ruth, by Henry and Pravina.” 2000s Topsy Turvy Puppet, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India

SAsia6. Banaras, India. Indian Woman. 11” Beautiful detailed dressed female doll, green silk with gold brocade trim, pearl and gold earrings, necklace, and bracelet. Doll is composition with black fiber hair. Bottom of stand: “Banaras, India.” Given by Henry Glassie and Pravina Shukla. (faculty). 2001

Indian Women, Banaras, India

SAsia7. Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Male and Female Couple. 11” Set of 2. Handmade stuffed dolls in traditional costumes and print. Female has a pierced nose diamond stud, gold earrings and beaded necklace. Male is carrying a woven bag. Given by Michelle Branigan (student). 1990

Male and Female Couple, Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

SAsia8.  Tehran, Iran.  Set of 2.  Iranian Wax Dolls. 16” Beautifully detailed wax dolls in traditional dress. Female: human hair with green veil, gold silk and purple lace material with orange rick rack trim. Male: human hair and beard, wrapped turban headdress, woven robe with gold trim, white under dress and carrying  pouch. Given by Ruth Aten. My husband, Bob, and I lived in Tehran, Iran in 1978 and we found ourselves caught up in their revolutionary war and the removal of the Shah. Right before we fled the country to return to the US, I wanted to purchase these dolls that were in my favorite shop of handmade Iranian art. The shop was right across the street from the American Embassy where just a few weeks later the American hostages were taken. The country had turned violent and was falling apart and when I asked the owner of the shop to please put them in a box for our trip back home, he replied with a  jester that if he got a big enough box could we take him along with the dolls to the US. These dolls are among the few things that we were able to take with us when we fled the country. 1978

Iranian Wax Dolls, Tehran, Iran

SAsia9. Bangladesh. Juke Camel. 8” tall, 8”long. Camel made of Jute with backpacks. Tag: “CORR-The Jute Works, Women’s Handicrafts Marketing Organisation. This product is handmade by a destitute village woman living in Bangladesh. COOR –The Jute Works, a non-profit marketing organisation, was formed to help find a market for these products, and to ensure that this woman receives a fair price for her labour.”

Juke Camel, Bangladesh

SAsia10. Iran. Iranian Herdsman. 8” Handcrafted doll with molded body and head, painted facial features, traditional dress with turban headdress and striped woven top with sash at waist. The herdsman is carrying a herding stick. Given by Ruth Aten, purchased in Tehran, Iran. 1978

Iranian Herdsman

SAsia11. Bangladesh. Bangladesh Woman with Pitcher. 12” Beautifully handmade doll in traditional dress, painted face and molded form. Doll is carrying a black pitcher. Given by Henry Glassie (faculty). 1980s

Bangladesh Woman with Pitcher
SAsia12. India. Small Doll on Card. 1 ½” Very small doll with aqua skirt and pink veil. Doll is glued to a card. Given by Deeksha Nagar (student). 2000 Small Doll on Cord, India

SAsia13. Islamabad, Pakistan. 13” Four female and two male dolls from Pakistan. Elaborately and appropriately dressed in the style of their region. These dolls were donated to the collection by Wilma Heston. “I purchased these in Islamabad (Pakistan) over several years during the 1980s…..The doll maker disappeared before I could get dolls from all regions of Pakistan.” Given by Wilma Heston. 2012

Pakistan Dolls

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Western Asia

WAsia1. Israel. Clay Rabbi Figure. 2” Small, handmade clay Rabbi. Mark: Israel, Loina Sakalarsky." Given by Syd Grant (staff), a souvenir from a vacation trip to Israel. 1980s

Clay Rabbi Figure, Israel

WAsia2. Lebanon. Bride Doll. 10” Lebanese doll in traditional bridal costume. Stuffed cloth body, organza and lamè dress. Purchased by Ruth Aten at the Epot International Center, Florida. The doll was made in a Lebanese orphanage and the proceeds went to the orphanage. 2000

Bride Doll, Lebanon

WAsia3. Turkey. Turkish Girl. 8” Felt form with wire frame. She is dressed in traditional dress wearing a hat with a veil and a bright gold trim dress with pink sleeves. Given by Henry Glassie (faculty). 1980s

Turkish Girl

WAsia4. Saudi Arabia. Redressed Barbie. 12” Redressed Barbie doll in traditional Saudi Arabian dress. Blue with detailed embroidered silver trim.   It is evident that this trim was designed specifically for this Barbie.  Barbie dolls have been redressed by doll artists world-wide. I found it interesting that a blond hair, blue eyed Barbie was chosen to be redress in a traditional costume. Card: “This dress from, Dammon Dahran & khobro style. Wakell dress Hashal. Tob Momtaga Skirkiya." Given by Ruth Stone (faculty). 2000

Redressed Barbie, Saudi Arabia

WAsia5. Saudi Arabia. Arab Male. 11” Stuffed cloth body with molded head and painted face in traditional dress. Given by Hasan El-Shamy (faculty). 1980s

Arab Male, Saudi Arabia

WAsia6. Saudi Arabia. Arab Male. 7” Stuffed cloth doll in traditional dress with painted face on stand. Given by Henry Glassie (faculty). 1996

Arab Male, Saudi Arabia


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