Motanki Ancestral Dolls – frequently asked questions.

Author: Marta Pitchuk

Is Ancestral Doll making a craft exclusive for women?

Women were traditionally and naturally predisposed to create peace and wealth for the household, and with that, they are usually the ones making the dolls.  Women understand the potency of magical ritual, so they used herbs and healing abilities of food. Doll making was a creative way to spend time with other women. The dolls were often made for the young girls to play with. But sometimes they were playing a more important role, if made ritually and with the right preparation.

That said, men are more and more often participating in this ritual. They make dolls as gifts for their daughter, or wife. It is a wonderful experience for men as well. 

Why are they called Ancestral?

The cult of ancestors played a very important role in the lives of ancient Slavs, just like in every native culture across the globe. This was one way to connect to ancestral energies. The white body of the doll is actually a color often associated with death and transformation. The reason for the ancestral connection was to honor everybody in the family and ask for guidance and protection.

Is Ancestral Doll making an art typical for Slavic Cultures?

Generally many cultures have a history of doll making. Typically they are serving as talismans and amulets and are supposed to help with something. The details and materials differ depending on the geographical and social position in one’s culture. That’s why the Slavs make their doll out of fabric scraps, not from corn husk for example – since corn has not been cultivated in Europe in ancient times.

Pati Becker. Motanka the Traveller.

Are there Male versions of the dolls?

Yes. There are few versions of male dolls – the papa grain doll is a companion to grain doll. There is the man in Lovers Dolls. Also, if made as a single Task doll, he will usually hold a wheel in his hands- a solar symbol of change.

What is a Grain Doll?

A grain Doll is a doll made with grains that represent wealth and abundance in the household. She is usually placed in the kitchen to make sure there will be always enough food. She also protects your home from sickness and hunger. Papa Doll is a wonderful companion to grain doll, he is a supportive wise manager of wealth and brings good luck and lots of love.

Can I make a doll to make someone fall in love with me?

During the process of doll making, we discover something about us that keeps us from receiving love. And it’s not something someone did or didn’t do, but simply lack of love for our inner child. This is a chance to heal and attract love, not to “make someone fall in love” with us – that’s bending of a free will. This type of healing can be supported with herbs and crystals which are beneficial for healing and love.

What are the benefits of doll making?

I don’t believe there is any scientific study that can prove this, but from my own observations, the process seems deeply relaxing and comforting. If done in the right atmosphere, it can also bring in the healing of traumas, because we are able to let our guards down and reach into the subconsciousness. That’s why so many people report feeling as if they entered a dialog with the doll just to discover something interesting about themselves or their past, that they were previously unaware of.

Can I use recycled materials?

Absolutely! You can get rid of some old fabrics, scraps and pieces of materials, or have fun sorting through an old box of jewelry – this is a very much recycled and upcycled doll. 

Are there any other types of dolls?

Yes. At the begging of winter, women would make a decoration out of 12 dolls tangled on one string. They would be hanged over the fireplace, or front door in modern days, to protect from cold and sickness. It was believed that they were taking the maladies on themselves

Pati Becker. Motanka.