Author of" Toys of Other Days." Continued from page 717, Pari 6
Ancient Egyptians - Napoleonic Dolls - Marionettes
It is the instinct of mimicry which makes old dolls so interesting; the human touch is still strong, and comes to us fresh and fragrant down the path of centuries. Three centuries before Christ, a Roman mother lived at a place called Bechnisca, in Upper Egypt. She did not want her child to hurt herself with a hard toy, any more than we do now, so she, stuffed a linen bag with papyrus, sewed on its nose, eyes, and mouth, and left hanging threads for hair. This is our old friend the rag doll, coming down to show that mothers twenty-one centuries ago were just the same as they are now, and so were little girls and dolls.
There is a German doll which gives another notion of a past century. Babies will eat and suck and batter their toys on the floor, so the practical French and Germans have- special dolls for very young children, not of celluloid, which, if too near the fire, will set baby's pinafore in a blaze, but of wood, carved all in one piece.
An 18th century
German doll for a young child
This doll is called a poupard, and has no arms and legs to come off, and perhaps be swallowed, only a handle; no clothes to soil, tear, and destroy, but just an adorable baby face and a handle. The ancient Egyptians also had this kind of doll, and the handles had writing and signs on them to keep the baby from harm. The lucky pig appears amongst them, for he was supposed to be lucky even then, and a favourite with the god Horus.
The little girls of Greece and Rome, when too old to play with their dolls, took them, with the dolls' houses and furniture and clothes, and left them at the temple of Diana. If a child died, its doll was buried with it. That is how we have well-preserved specimens of dolls and other toys which were made in those remote ages.
The Egyptians, too, thought the children would want their dolls to play with in the other world, and put some in their coffins, and the early Christians continued the custom, though they no longer believed the children would need them, an interesting instance of the survival of a treasured custom long after its real meaning had become obscured.
Dolls of the Middle Ages wear the stiff oustanding skirts which the people of that time affected. They are nearly always grownup ladies and gentlemen, and their dresses are stiff with rich embroidery. Later, when lace and galloon was much worn, the dolls all had it too, however costly it might be.
The fashion for baby dolls and little boy dolls came in when Napoleon's son, the little King of Rome, was young. In a toymaker's pattern-book is a toy King of Rome, with an order round his neck and a little muslin frock, and from that time baby dolls were quite fashionable. We may mention one modelled and dressed like the Princess Royal, soon after the eldest daughter of Queen Victoria was born. The doll has the dearest wee cap of lace and satin ribbon, such as all the Queen's babies wore, as well as a real lace robe over a slip of cream satin, and is a very lovable baby.
Wax doll dressed to represent the late Empress of Germany as
Miss Croft, 17, Pelham Crescent, S.iv.
Not so cuddlesome, but of very great interest, is an early nineteenth century lady, who is dressed in a buff nankin dress, with many tucks, a second dress hung above her head, and, in the showcase where she was displayed for exhibition, a Sunday and everyday bonnet of the coal-scuttle shape hung on either side. The bag at her side contains a wee prayer-book and a hymn-book. These were always carried to church in a bag of some rich material, generally by a footman, in the days when the doll was dressed.
The lady has a face of compo and glass eyes, which latter prove that she is not of earlier date than the nineteenth century, for it was then that a patent was applied for in Paris for the making of dolls' eyes of glass.
Chinese puppet. Punch and Judy show
The doll from Peru which is seen in one of the illustrations is a native toy and wears the characteristic peaked cap. Native work is shown in the cloth clothes embroidered with beads.
The fierce-looking Chinese doll is very finely modelled in wax and has movable arms, which brandish the weapon which greatly enhances the terror of his aspect.
This toy is really a marionette, and is worked by the child, who holds the thin piece of bamboo on which he is supported.
The Chinese had elaborately equipped marionette theatres long before the Punch and Judy came to England, and in Athens there was a finely appointed marionette theatre.
The story of the doll is a long and beautiful one. The friend of the child, the recipient of childish confidence all the world over, this puppet stands for something eternal. While life lasts we crave for sympathy, friendship, a form or symbol which shall receive our confidences and, willy nilly, shall hear our joys. Happy the being who can retain the Heaven-sent gift of "let's pretend," and who can find in her puppets all through life the qualities with which she invests them. Long may it be before she finds out her dolls are stuffed with sawdust.
Doll from Peru in cloth clothes with bead ornaments