National doll produced as a souvenir of Africa. It was purchased for Monica Gates by her mother in 1976 whilst she was on a safari trip through Africa. The doll was purchased on the Equator at a roadside stop, and was said to have been carved by the Masai. The Masai are a semi-nomadic people located in Kenya and northern Tanzania. This simple figure would have been produced for the tourist trade and is most likely intended to represent a Masai man wearing red cloth around his waist, holding a spear and shield.

The Gates collection contains 170 national dolls from 74 different countries and some correspondence relating to the acquisition of several of the dolls. The costumes of the dolls represent national costumes from the 19th Century to the 1990s. Monica Gates collected or was given these dolls between 1957 and 1990.

These dolls were purchased as souvenirs of particular countries and like many mass produced souvenirs they are often not accurate representations of a particular country or region, and may actually better reflect neighbouring counties or regions. This occurs because costumes are often stylised and simplified resulting dolls wearing generic costume elements which are common to many countries/regions. Often the fabrics and decorations used are selected to make the dolls cheap and easy to manufacture and aesthetically pleasing. This can result in the fabrics, colours and decorations of the doll's clothing having little or no reflection of the costume associated with a particular country or region they are meant to be representative of.

Physical Description

Doll, wooden, carved. Represents a Kenyan man carrying a shield and a spear. He has blue and white bead anklets, bracelet and necklace. He is standing on a round wooden base.

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