The place for dolls

11 Things you should know about rag dolls

What do we play?

This question is the premise to open a universe full of entertainment possibilities, fun, fantastic worlds, competitions and hours that fly by amidst laughter and real challenges.

The game arises from an internal impulse of the child, without needing external stimuli; on the other hand, the game is self-regulated. The child is the one who decides the rules, the duration, the persistence and the intensity of his game.

It is important to know that play is the way in which children solve certain unsatisfied needs. In this way, play varies according to how the child’s needs vary. “What was of great interest to an infant is of lesser interest later” (Vygotsky, 1933, quoted in Sarlé, 2015). This is the reason why, the small children develop their game with the objects more near their surroundings. As they grow older, from the age of two or three, they begin to create an imaginary situation where their wishes can be realized.

On the other hand, the game being a self-regulated activity, allows the child to build his own situation, which will promote his autonomy as a manager of this action. The child maintains interest in the game because he has an internal rule that he is fulfilling and this causes him satisfaction.

The game includes an emotional affective component, not only as an activity that produces joy, but also as an activity that is presented as a scenario to establish social relationships between peers and to facilitate their participation as a social entity that gets used to the adjustment of rules.

The game must have time, space and quality in the life of the children. However, adults should not always provide artifacts and materials for it to occur. It is enough an open field or a ball, a rag doll or a wooden horse, which are the promoters of fantastic games in which adults can intervene, but, many times the ideal is simply to observe the fantastic of the creation of the infantile game in our children.

Childhood is short lived, let’s allow children to be children through play

Rag Doll


A rag doll is a toy for children. It is a doll (popular toy all over the world) made of cloth, traditionally made at home from scraps of cloth and filled with pieces of material. It is one of the oldest toys for children; in the British Museum there is a rag doll from the Roman period, which can be dated to the first half of the 5th century.

However, the first historical references to rag dolls date from the Egyptian period, although unfortunately the biodegradable elements with which they were made (linen and papyrus) have made it difficult for archaeologists to find them.

An Amish doll is a type of traditional American rag doll that originated as a toy for children among the people of the Old Amish Order. The best known type has no facial features. Today, many rag dolls are commercially produced imitating the features of the original homemade dolls, with simple features, soft cloth bodies, and patchwork clothing.

In the literature

Raggedy dolls have appeared in a number of children’s stories, such as the 19th century character Golliwogg, Raggedy Ann in Johnny Gruelle’s 1918 book, the popular “Raggybaggy”, the British children’s television series Bagpuss or Jean Kenward’s Ragdolly Anna. Sally’s character from Tim Burton’s film, Nightmare Before Christmas. is also a ragdoll.

The fascinating story behind the Mary Doll, an iconic Mexican toy

The Marias dolls are recognized worldwide as an icon of Mexico, but what is their origin?

We all place the Maria dolls, that colorful toy embroidered by hand on rag cloth, palms bathed in color that symbolize their hair and a tender face, became one of the most sought-after crafts by tourists. But do you really know what this figure used by Mazahua women to represent themselves means?

According to Más de México, the María dolls appeared as the result of cultural syncretism between the New and Old Continents, but it is believed that the first dolls, made with clay, palm and corn hair, accompanied the children’s burial rituals as protection against evil spirits.

After the Spanish conquest, New Spanish toys began to be mixed with those of indigenous cultures, inevitably resulting in a wide diversity of uses and customs. From this mixture came the spinning top, the pyrinola, yo-yos, ball bearings, porcelain junk or clay or wood figurines; European porcelain dolls and rag dolls…


These rag dolls known as María, had their origin in Michoacán and Estado de México. They were made by the Mazahua ethnic group as a cheaper and more traditional alternative to the toys sold in the markets -mainly from porcelain dolls imported from Spain-. Over time, these dolls began to represent the Mazahua women who used to roam the streets of Mexico City and were called “Marias”. It is even said that this is the reason why the dolls, with colorful ribbons and typical clothing of the region, earned the name “Maria dolls”.

As the practice spread to different regions of the country, the rag dolls began to diversify. While in the north the guarijío dolls specialized, with a costume representative of this ethnic group, of brilliant colors and flowery fabrics, with applications of lace, scarf and even black socks; in the state of Guanajuato the “Lupitas” were created, made with the cartonería technique, painted with floral outfits and geometric figures.

A second story of the rag dolls to be read

Let’s start by defining what a rag is, according to the dictionary of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language it is “a piece of old and broken cloth”, “woman’s dress”, “cape or cape of the bullfighter”. However, when we say “put it as a rag”, “live to all rag”, in our America, the word “rag” has other connotations,.

In the past, our indigenous peoples spun fibers such as corn leaf, fique, bulrush, and other plants that were used to make hammocks, hammocks and clothing, also used animal skins such as rabbits and alpacas, bird feathers, tree bark and many roots that are not used today. With these materials, grandmothers and grandfathers made dolls with their children, since it was not a question of giving them a gift but of teaching them the necessary skills for survival through play. All the civilizations of the world make dolls, especially in America and the Caribbean, because they had a religious sense that allowed them to maintain contact with Mother Nature, with the earth, the waters, the air and the fire. The indigenous dolls that are still preserved are the wará goddesses, made of clay, gold or bronze, those made of tuza and corn leaves, the heads of ahuyama, those made of loofah, those made of totuma, and those made of rope.

Then, with the invasion of the Spaniards, the image of the Virgin is introduced and the fabrics brought from Europe, the forms of dress of the colonists and the dolls with the hands, the legs, the chest and the face in paper Maché or of ceramics. They are the “puppets”, whose name comes from an image of Mary that they threw from the bell towers of the French churches and moved with strings or threads to motivate and invite people to enter mass.

The Spanish dolls were and still are very luxurious in their clothing, as they imitated royalty. Being that the conquerors were people without titles of nobility nor power, they tried to imitate here the rich of their towns and began to make embroidered dolls, but of tubes of old and dirty rags what generated diseases among the children, besides the contagion to the original towns that almost finished them with as much violence as the invasion to sword and fire, in the war of indigenous resistance. Then the Spaniards brought enslaved men and women from Africa, who came against their will and with an extraordinary culture and tradition in terms of dolls, of which the heads of stone, those made of thread handle seeds, dolls made of rolls, those made of snails and seeds, those made of braided vegetable fiber, those made of buttons, those made of seashells and others, which sometimes represented their deities and were a comfort in the face of the misfortune of slavery, are still preserved.

In this Land of Grace as it is our America, the cultures were linked and with the passage of time lost that religious and superstitious mythical essence, to give way to what today is considered a traditional toy, where its process of elaboration is also space for gentlemen, craftsmen, young people in general and adults in particular and its use is for all.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, there was a custom of dancing the 15-year-old waltz of the society ladies, passing a rag doll among the dancers to represent the passage from childhood to adulthood. After the waltz, the quinceañera throws the doll among the girls under 15, as brides today throw the bouquet among the single ladies on their wedding day. They also place them as a centerpiece and souvenir of the celebration. Still in Mexico and in other countries of Our America, parents usually give the last doll in the 15 years, which can be a rag doll or another type. Today the same thing is done but with plastic dolls with fashion themes (Barbie, Disney Princesses, Puka, Betty Boo, among others).

On the Venezuelan coast, as well as in the Caribbean, dolls were associated with prosperity, good harvests, luck, safe deliveries, as protective angels to avoid misfortunes, and as companions in solitude. Today, lovers usually give rag dolls as a symbol of the couple’s future children, they are placed as decorations in homes and it is a traditional toy that should not disappear because it is part of our cultural identity. They are the common point among all the civilizations of the world, it is shared in all America, for example, the Nahua people who live in Central America make some hand embroidered dolls, full of colored ribbons in their hair and suits, and sell them in the markets some with the name of “Quitapenas”.

That is why rag dolls are an art linked since ancient times to popular beliefs and faith. This question sometimes generates controversy among cultural circles, since the integration between manual work and intellectual work makes the development of intelligence that it generates seem like “witchcraft”. But in reality it is a playful strategy that places people in the “here and now” to plan, create and dream a better future. The same is true for weaving, painting, pottery and all voluntary manual activities that require creativity and participation in the whole process of elaboration.

In 1985, the seamstresses affected by the earthquake in Mexico City, who worked in the workshops of San Antonio Abad, joined together to overcome adversity, made and sold their rag dolls, thus creating the union of seamstresses “19 de septiembre”, these dolls were called “Lucha” (serious face) and “Victoria” (happy face), became fashionable in the world and managed to get their creators ahead. Today they have more than three hundred different models and their dolls are a symbol of vitality, struggle and victory after a tragedy. With more than twenty years working their dolls, they have a space won in the cultural history of Mexico and all our America.

It still exists in many places of Venezuela, the custom of “baptizing” or throwing the water and putting name to the rag dolls, especially at the end of a course or workshop for its elaboration, where there are several dolls, a simple party is made or shared, it is sung, it is danced and invented or traditional names are placed like: Andinitas, Campesinas, Llaneras Quitapesares, Sirena Playera, Brujitas, Ángeles, also names taken from the santoral of the almanac and diminutives of the name of the creators are used.

Everything depends on the region that they represent or of time of the year, because there are the Christmas, the clowns of carnival and the t-shirts or saints of holy week

In the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the rag doll is recognized, its creators as an important part of the artistic sector of the country, today the art rooms of the Ministry of People’s Power for Culture, generally have, in all cities, exhibitions of locally created rag dolls. Besides, there are very famous artists like Armando Reverón who used rag dolls as models for his paintings, from him they have made movies, a museum and many tributes. We also have the poet Aquiles Nazoa, who made a book called “Vida privada de las Muñecas de trapo” (Private Life of the Rag Dolls) and took photographs of them to illustrate his stories. Zobeyda Jiménez, a Portuguese state educator, teacher and artisan who gave doll workshops to all those who wanted to learn to make a living with their hands, and the revolutionary Ali Primera in homage to this beautiful woman made a song. Thus the traditional Venezuelan rag doll has its space in the spheres of art, in addition to its place in the hands of children. But always under the threat of disappearing in the face of propaganda and the mass production of plastic dolls.


Currently, the Maria dolls are a handcrafted representation of Mexicanity, so their creation is encouraged without the need for machines or glue. The objective is to recover the passion, love and value of the Mazahua women who dedicated themselves to transmitting their wisdom from embroidery to embroidery, from thread to thread.

For the artisans, as is the case of Hortensia López, it is no longer just a toy, but a craft that requires several hours: “In my case it is handmade, there is not a single drop of glue, everything is with thread, so it is a lot of work, and I think that when you deliver a piece of this type, it carries a lot of load, it is not just going to the store, buying it and that’s it, there is part of us there”.

Unfortunately, nowadays many people don’t appreciate these dolls as a craft. In the words of Cristina Juarez Ramirez, an artisan from Amealco, Queretaro, “They almost don’t appreciate it, they say it’s expensive, but they don’t know the amount of material we invest and the material is already very expensive.

The Maria doll is a craft practice that allows to preserve the magic, tenderness and humility of all the people who have looked nostalgically at their childhood through its striking colors and regional representations. As if the doll’s symbolism was preserved in its silent smile, its infinite ribbons intertwined in its braids, its clothing so typical of the country or in the memory of a girl holding her only rag doll.

11 things you should know about rag dolls


Your grandmother or aunt probably gave you a rag doll once. Over time they have been disappearing from the market, and have been replaced by electronic toys or more sophisticated dolls. However, in some areas of the country they are still sold: in Colonia Tovar, Tocuyo, Cumaná, Mérida, Margarita and Falcón.

Read on if you want to know more about this sample of craftsmanship in which some people are still working so that it does not disappear completely.

1. Fun or decoration?

Besides being a toy for girls, they are also often used as decorations in Venezuelan homes. They come in all sizes, so they can be adapted to any environment. They are very easy to make, so it is possible to make them at home and to the taste of each person.

2. What is its history?

It is said that the first ones appeared in Egyptian times. They were made of papyrus and linen, which are biodegradable elements.

In the past, our indigenous peoples spun fibers from corn leaves, fique, bulrush, and other plants, which were used to make hammocks, hammocks, and clothing. They also used animal skins such as rabbits and alpacas, bird feathers, tree bark and many roots that are not used today. With those materials the grandparents made dolls with their children, but not to give them a gift but to teach them the necessary skills for survival through play.

The conquerors tried to make dolls, but they used dirty rags and that brought illnesses. So they turned to slaves from Africa to do this work.

Throughout history they have been undervalued and practically ignored. Users and collectors focus on dolls made of porcelain, the so-called Chinese, biscuit, wood or other materials. Even teddy bears have been more prestigious.

3. What is a rag?

A rag is a piece of used cloth that is not only used to make objects such as dolls, but also to clean surfaces in the home.

4. What role do rag dolls play in Venezuela?

They are part of our cultural identity, since they have been used in a large part of the history of Venezuela and the world. There is even a custom of baptizing the dolls and giving them names to identify them, such as the Andean, llanera, and beach mermaid dolls, among others.

5. Who is dedicated to making them?

Some ladies have been important figures in maintaining this custom.

Zobeyda, better known as La Muñequera, made sure that this tradition would last among Venezuelans until their last days. She began to make them in the 70’s, and over the years she founded El Museo de Las Muñecas, near Plaza Bolívar in Píritu. Such was her dedication that Ali Primera composed a song in her honor. In addition, in 2006 she was awarded the National Culture Prize of the state of Portuguesa.

Rosa, on the other hand, learned the trade with her mother. She has been making dolls in Guatire for more than 35 years. She was initiated in this art for her entertainment, and then she started giving them away. Without realizing it, there came a moment when she was making dolls all the time. Some of her creations are Andean or Llanero couples, Wuayu, the Black Hippolyta, and as she is from Guatire, puppets from the Parranda de San Pedro.

In the state of Zulia is Doris Orence, who has been making dolls for 50 of her 61 years of age.

Amada Rojas, in the state of Sucre, also learned since she was a child and with her work she is leaving footprints for the next generations.

6. Did you know that…

Aquiles Nazoa made a book called Vida Privada de las Muñecas de trapo, a work with stories, tales, poetry, and photographs of rag dolls in color or black and white.

Armando Reverón used rag dolls for his paintings. They, which were hand-made by the artist, were his models and companions.

7. What is the relationship between rag dolls and literature?

They have been the protagonists of numerous poems and children’s stories, such as Wolliwog, a doll from the Anglo-Saxon books. In the period following World War II, the Golliwog and the teddy bear became very popular.

These tales are usually full of tradition and feeling. There is one called Tales from Here and There, from Arandurã Publishing House, and of which Martin Venialgo is the author. There is Muñeca de Trapo (Rag Doll), which tells the story of a mother who gave one to her daughter when she was fifteen years old, since it was the only thing she could give her, and it served as a motivation for her to succeed in life later on.

8. How to make your own rag doll?

Draw a pattern for you to use as a template on the fabric.
Choose the fabric that you will use for the clothes and the skin. Cut out each part and sew it leaving a hole so that it can be filled with cotton.
After filling, sew them again.
Add the eyes, mouth and hair. You can draw on the face or use another fabric. It is recommended that the hair is done separately.

9. Regional Rag Doll Room:

The Choir Museum pays homage to them in order to, among other things, promote the rescue of Venezuelan traditions. An immense amount of dolls are exhibited, the great majority made by older ladies. In addition, the exhibitions include workshops and talks on the subject.

10. Soap Opera Muñeca de Trapo

It is a Venezuelan soap opera that was broadcast on Venevision in 2000. It was about a girl who was taken away from her parents and that is why she was raised in a humble neighborhood. The main character was called Muñequita de Trapo (little rag doll) by those who despised her.

11. Did you know that…

In the IXX and XX centuries there was a custom that while a quinceañera danced the waltz, a rag doll was passed among those present to represent the passage to adulthood.

Visit the children’s section of La Tienda Venezolana to find many traditional games for your kids, and share this article with all your family and friends.

The Rag Doll and the Development of Creativity

The creators rely on the poetry of reality to shape their works, art is manual work and manual work should never be separated from intellectual work, only integrating both activities is achieved a complete development of creativity, so, reading and producing texts is accompanied by all the work of people, the work of the hands and their products go through processes of reflection that must be shared, discussed and reviewed, to improve through the development of the senses and achieve broader structures of thought. It is what they call Research – Action _ Participation as a cycle of improvement of human creation to go further and further in the knowledge and practice of the trades.

For the effects of our work, in the confection of traditional dolls we are going to take for rags, what many know as “trapito” or pieces of cloth of colors that are left over after the work of the seamstresses and tailors. You can use everything that the environment offers, with the condition that it is clean and does not represent a danger for the users, they should have threads, needles to sew by hand and a sewing machine if possible. Notebooks pencils. Accompany the activities in a background with good music at low volume or take advantage of the activity to enjoy the silence necessary for concentration in sewing. The whole process offers the possibility of stimulating the five senses and even more, because it develops other senses such as : The sense of duty, common sense (living in community), the sense of harmonic balance of the body, mathematical logic, and all in a pleasant environment, groups of 15 people or less, sharing materials and experiences.

This way they develop motor skills while acquiring verbal information and improving their non-sexist attitudes, by cooperating with tasks that are proper to the home and stimulating artistic potentialities in shared activities.

The manufacture of rag dolls develops broad structures of creative thought, creates emotional bonds by being soft to the touch, allows the recognition of harmony between colors and textures, promotes the development of intelligence by offering challenges to solve situations during the manufacture, serves as therapy; It is an exercise of attention, concentration, rhythm and productive action. It is an art linked to beliefs and faith that sometimes confronts the arrogance of Western medical science, improving the quality of life of people without the use of pills and medicines, only with the recreational activity and socialization of manual work, it is alternative and complementary therapy for people with emotional problems. This was applied by the wise grandmothers of the past when they said: “if you are sad, work, if you are upset, work with your hands to take away the pain”.

Rag dolls and their relationship with other trades

It is associated with the manufacture of rag dolls with literature, psychology, history, design, tailoring, fashion, textile restoration and social research.

To make a good rag doll you have to practice sewing by hand and machine, have a good seamstress or a good tailor close by to give us their pieces and advice to obtain an aesthetically beautiful doll, as well as to give it desire and heart.

When does a rag doll meet high quality standards?

When it doesn’t fall apart with use.

It is hygienic, clean and can be restored.

It reminds you of your own childhood.

That the costume fits a particular time (yesterday, today or tomorrow) or a particular trade.

That the hair is in good condition.

They are old if they represent times or situations before the thirties, if they are more than twenty-five years old, if they are unique in their species, if they don’t have replicas.

They are replicas if they are reproductions of a mold copied from a unique doll.

They are restored if they are old, unique or replicas but have been repaired. These dolls are valuable if they are associated with local or national history such as those of Raúl Santana, with painting for example those of Reverón, or with literature, for example those of Aquiles Nazoa.

The clothes of the dolls should be well made, taking care of the details, in the shoes, underwear, bows, buttons, and other elements.

Stories, tales, myths and legends of customs of Venezuela, the Caribbean and America, linked to the rag dolls
Let’s remember that a history is a fact that really happened, it is documented and demonstrated, that it is relevant because of the transformative consequences it had and the collective memory assumes it as its own, that reality is worth telling because of its appeal from the beginning, development and end.

The stories are the product of an author’s imagination, such as Tío Tigre and Tío Conejo by Antonio Arráiz, “Es aquí y es allá” by Josefina Urdaneta and Carmen Mannarino, or the selection of popular stories by Hernando García Mejía, can also be from the popular tradition, such as those by Jaimito or Francisco El Hombre, or the story by Pacheco.

Myths are narratives that try to explain the phenomena of nature through unreal facts, for example, Amalivaka and the anaconda, The Elves of the Rain, the daughters of the Corn, the Pachamama.

The legends are stories that are passed on from parents to children, from grandmothers to grandchildren, and they narrate “possible” but unusual facts such as the tales of cemeteries, the India of the river, the legend of the Silbón, the Llorona, the Sayona, the Sirenas, the ghost ship, the roses of the sea. It is worth noting that there are legends that when thoroughly investigated, turn out to be true stories, such as the legend of the black King Michael and Guiomar the Indian Queen, or the smell of roses in the Caribbean Sea that comes from the flowers in the gardens on the islands.

All these stories have in common that they produce emotions, transmit ethical values, generate a relationship of friendship among the participants, besides being part of our cultural identity.

The rag dolls are a creative resource for the narration of stories, tales, myths and legends.

In Venezuela, storytelling is promoted in squares, parks, family gatherings and there is a whole cultural movement of storytellers who base their narrations not only on puppets or marionettes but also on rag dolls and puppets that represent characters. Thus we have stories like Juanita La Avanzadora, Josefa Camejo, Simón Bolívar and Manuelita, among others. Also the legend of Amalivaka and Anaconda, the stories of Lord Don, The Cayman of Sanare, Pacheco and the Cold, the Whistle, the Sayona, the myths of Manaure and the Golden Serpent, King Miguel and Guiomar, The Mountain Goblins, the Virgin appeared, the Espanto and many others of the Venezuelan, Caribbean and Latin American oral tradition.

In the Caribbean and throughout the Americas the use of rag dolls to accompany children when they go to sleep is a shared tradition, they are used as a pillow, and serve to accompany the reading of children’s stories.



Do you want to give a special gift? Without a doubt, a rag doll is one of the best options to surprise the little ones of the house and there is a really wide range of models available. If you are looking for the best rag dolls this year, check out this compilation that our best experts have made and you are sure to find the toy you are looking for.


The baby rag doll below is the perfect doll if you are looking for a rag doll that is really sweet to become your baby’s first doll. It’s a doll that looks like a princess and will always be smiling to help your baby get through their first cries. It also has a ribbon on which you can write the baby’s name or some nice phrase so you can identify it without any problems. It is machine washable and comes in a cute and elegant case.


Are you looking for a different and very coquettish rag doll? Well, then this product specially designed for small children is perfect for you. It is recommended for children of at least two years old and it is a beautiful 30-centimeter rag doll with a polka-dot dress that will certainly not leave anyone indifferent.


This 38-centimeter rag doll is the ideal toy for all girls who want to have their first doll. It is recommended for little girls from two years old and has a very classic and beautiful design. The girls will be able to use it at all times and you can also machine wash it so you don’t have to worry about it being dirty or that it will be too complicated to keep clean.


This rag doll is especially interesting for all the people who respect the environment since it is a toy elaborated totally with ecological and natural materials that in addition respect the regulations. In this case it is a 30-centimeter doll in the shape of a bunny very nice and perfect for a gift at Christmas or birthday.


If you are looking for a thermal doll that is also scented with a nice lavender smell this is the best option. It is also very interesting because you can wash it by hand and it is perfect for children over three years old. It has a height of 30 centimeters and will keep your baby warm in the winter months.


The doll presented below is the ideal rag doll as it is beautiful and has a unique design with braids but is also made of cuddly material. The hair is brown and it comes with a red t-shirt which will undoubtedly surprise and captivate equally all children who choose it as a special toy or receive it as a gift.


This rag doll is made with ecological materials and is the ideal toy to accompany children during their growth. It is worth noting how this doll is designed according to European specifications and will be perfect as a gift. In addition it is also ideal as a decoration for houses, cars or for collecting because its spring design is really nice and surprising.


Do you want to give a special doll as a gift? No doubt the Mette rag doll is because it is a toy that comes with a nice dress, different hair ribbons and elegant shoes. The doll comes with a padded body and a hair detail and is 30 centimeters high. In addition, this doll is machine washable and is a good option for children from one and a half years old.


But without a doubt the queen of the original rag dolls is this one, since its finish and design are pirate, making it perfect for the boldest and bravest little ones, and also helping to encourage their imagination and manual dexterity. This doll is embroidered and no doubt children will love to hug and play with it.


I’m sure you’ve never seen a doll like this before as it’s a doll with a beautiful koala design. The little ones will have a great time imagining and playing with it and no doubt it is a good option to give as a present on birthdays, Christmas etc. It has a perfect finish which is also very interesting to use as a decoration for the home and even to decorate vehicles and so on. The only limits will be your imagination and that of the children.


Are your children fairy lovers who like to fantasize? If so, don’t think twice and surprise them at Christmas, on their birthday or at other special parties with this beautiful rag doll with a brand new fairy design. This is a fun, safe and perfect toy for children from two years old with which they will learn to develop their affection and will undoubtedly have a lot of fun.


The rag doll you can find here is one of the best options for children of all ages as it has a classic finish and a height of 20 centimeters, but also incorporates movement and music so that children can enjoy and learn a lot while they develop playing with it.


This rag doll is really original because its design is not the typical princess doll but it has a beautiful and striking dress with a flower, it has beautiful red hair and it has modern and daring ponytails, so it is the perfect doll for all those children who want a unique doll and for all parents who know how to appreciate the value of authenticity and want their children to do it too.