For now, rag-dolls are truly Ukrainian talisman. The tradition of its production preserved in Ukraine. Although, as it is confirmed by history, the beginning of rag-dolls’ manufacturing started in the times of Tripoli culture. Over times the sacred value of rag-doll was lost, and it was increasingly considered as a toy. Motanka (the Ukrainian name of a rag-doll) can be boldly called the praprababushka of all dolls. It has a long history, protects and guards us.
Rag-doll is always a female figure. The woman is the embodiment of the Goddess, Mother, Guardian. Just women could make rag-dolls. Since long Ukrainian women invested different values in the doll; it could be the amulet for marriage or for motherhood, an amulet that conveyed order in the family, or the wealth as well.
A unique feature of rag-doll is that it is forbidden to touch her with a needle or scissors. All pieces of fab
ric are torn exclusively by hand, small parts are tied, but not sewn. It is believed that some parts of the dolls’ clothes can be embroidered, but it should be done in advance until the process of dolls’ production began.
The important rule for producing of rag-dolls is that you can not tie the knots on it. The only knot that is allowed is knot in the area of the navel, which symbolizes the birth of a doll. By the way, in the process of tying this knot you should think about what this doll is made for and make a wish. Then your thoughts are materialized more intensively. Also, the knots while collecting pens are allowed, until they are not yet connected to the body of the doll. Interesting fact: some rag-dolls are made without arms at all, but they do not lose their significance herein.
Authentic rag- dolls are made from scraps of that clothing that you were already wearing. This should be your favorite clothes and that you cannot throw away. If it is associated with negative memories, it is prohibited to use these clothes. Also to create rag-doll you should use ribbon, bands, lace and only natural fabrics! No synthetics!
A unique feature of a rag-doll that distinguishes it from ordinary dolls made of tissue is a cross of strings on his face. Russian left rag-dolls with an empty “white” face, and in the Ukraine the cross was depicted, so that no evil spirits could fill this motanka. Scientific studies have shown that the cross is considered to be a Christian symbol, which means the sun. This cross is in any case not embroidered – it is only bound around.
The producing of every rag-doll starts from the head. A piece of fabric is rolled in a bolster in order to get a small cylinder. This cylinder is placed in the center of the canvas made of white cloth, then the cloth is tighten and wrapped with the treads. Thus the head of a doll is formed. Leaving “tail” canvas will be the basis for future dolls body. Head is usually wrapped with colorful threads, “winding” Slavic cross. Then another piece of cloth is taken and rolled into a long thin roll. This roll is bent to the body – now there are hands of our motanka. Then motanka is dressed in colorful costumes, and several layers are wrapped over the doll: there are a shirt, a skirt, an apron and a shawl. Sometimes, except fabrics other materials are used. For example, a rag-doll that brings wellness in the house has an Indian corn instead of a trunk. A doll that symbolizes health and protects from evil forces can contain herbs inside.
Finally, I want to draw attention to the important thing: dolls should be made at once. Stitchers shall not be distracted, otherwise the amulet can not only work, but also bring bad luck.