National doll produced to represent an Indian man, it was brought by Monica Gates in 1976 on a trip through India. This doll is dressed to represent a snake charmer. Snake charming was once common in India, although the number of people practicing it is now declining. The snake charmer's equipment includes his bheen--the snake flute--snake baskets and the snakes themselves. Cobras are a favourite snake, because they have religious significance and visually impressive. The snake charmers bheen is made from two wooden flutes fitted with bamboo reeds and cemented with beeswax into the bottle section of a gourd.

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 and snake. Doll is an Indian male with a beard. He is wearing an orange turban, an orange overshirt and orange trousers. He has a black bead necklace and is playing an Indian flute-type musical instrument. He has one leg in front of him and is kneeling on the other. The doll is bisque. He is accompanied by a bisque snake (cobra) which is black and is coiled in a brown basket with its head rearing up.

More Information