A baby doll resembles a human, specifically a human baby most of the times nowadays they are used as toys for children however in the past and to the day, they are also used in religious and magic rituals. There is documentation proving that dolls were used in Rome, Greece and Ancient Egypt. As a matter of fact, there is even archaeological proof that the oldest known toys were dolls.
At that time they were made from the materials which were available, for example stone, clay, ivory, bone, wood, wax, leather, etc. One of the oldest types of dolls ever found were wooden paddle dolls. They were uncovered in ancient Egyptian tombs which dated back to 2000 BC, it is not entirely clear what their purpose was.
There are ancient Greek dolls that date back to 2000 BC, their limbs were quite intricate and documents from 100 BC once again show that dolls were used as toys for children. Clay, ivory, wood and rags were used by the Romans to make their dolls, they were found dressed according to the latest fashions and laid to rest in children’s graves.
Roman and Greek newly wed girls would gift their dolls to a Goddess. There were also dolls that had multiple rolls. Even though they were a child playthings, they were also used in the children’s education as well as participants in rituals. There were dolls that due to the fact that they were believed to be super charged with magical powers, they were never even given to children. African dolls were used as messengers of ancestors and gods, as ritual tools and as methods of education.
There is actually a long history associated with Japanese baby dolls, their origin stems back to the ancient time of the Jomon culture that dated from 8000-200 BC. They too had more than one role, they were used as toys, in religious ceremonies and for protection. There are some Japanese traditional dolls that are referred to as Kokeshi doll, Daruma dolls and Hina dolls.
Dolls were and still are used for effigy, it is a well known method of performing magic, it is most popular in Native American, African, and European cultures, an example of some effigy dolls would be the bocio or nkisi of Central and West Africa or the poppet from Europe. Often they represented individuals on whom a particular spell had been cast.
There is a similar purpose between Hopi Kachina and African dolls due to the fact that they are also used as messengers of ancestors and the gods, ritual tools as well as a way of educating. They were items that were meant to be studied and to be treasured, it was important to learn each of the characteristics of every Kachina, they were bringers of good luck and the greatest messengers of the gods.
The history of the baby doll is vast, this is merely the most ancient history. Since then baby dolls have been created out of many more materials, they have been designed in ways that are so modern and lifelike that our ancestors would likely confuse many of them for real babies. They continue being a beloved toy for children, a collector’s item for their fans and yes used in many magic and religious rituals.