Turkish Dolls

I’m guessing that these 12″ dolls are Turkish, or I might be influenced by my recent visit there. (Emily just commented that she has one like the woman from Morocco.) They’re from my grandmother’s collection, which she accumulated in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I don’t remember her telling me about a trip to Turkey, but I know she traveled all over the world with her sisters after she was widowed in her early 60’s.  As a child, I would gaze up at her souvenir dolls, which lived on high shelves in her living room, out of reach of young fingers.

Now, they are mostly packed away in boxes or crowded into my studio display cases.  

The curious thing about these dolls is their hair. What’s with the blondish copper color? They look like Scandinavians dressed up in Ottoman costumes.

The dolls’ faces are sculpted with stockinette and painted. I find the man’s “fake snow” turban a bit bizarre, too. They certainly have a lot of character, but I find these more humorous than beautiful.

15 thoughts on “Turkish Dolls

  1. Salley, those are very well made souvenir dolls, you cannot find them anymore.
    And there are regions in Turkey where every body is blond and very slavic looking, like Tokat, Yozgat and large areas of the Black Sea 🙂

  2. The blonde hair and blue eyes are very interesting and mysterious. My grandparents also traveled the world in the 50’s and 60’s and brought me back dolls from many places, because they knew how enamored I was (and still am!) with dolls. My Turkish dolls are quite different, although the costuming is similar. I think mine are smaller than yours, and they do have dark hair and brown eyes. I think your dolls are beautiful, especially because they are different. There is a story there somewhere!

  3. There are many blonds with blue eyes and green eyes in Turkey! My own daughter whose ancestors are Turkish has green eyes and blonde hair. (Look up history of Ottoman Turks.) Esther above is correct.

    I agree its a Turkish sultan. I think the turban is made from spun cotton or wrapped wool. They really are quite beautiful. They have some of the characteristics of dolls made by Bernard Ravca–known for great attention to detail and with painted stockinette faces and hands, The costuming is wonderful and the tiny hands are amazing. As for the hair, I think it is silk or rayon floss which is quite shiny. It was used for the hair on boudoir dolls and other dolls. Your dolls are exquisite!

  4. I’ve got quite a few dolls that my parents brought home for me from different countries. I recall a Spanish lady with a painted face and especially the painted eyelashes were just like your Turkish lady’s!

  5. I inherited my great-aunt’s souvenir doll collection. She traveled about the same time as your mother. My Turkish doll has bright auburn hair. I was surprised at the color and did a google search. I found out that red hair is seen in Turkey as well. My doll doesn’t have nearly as nice fabrics as yours do. They are real treasures.

  6. Maria Moniz: My grandmother also brought me back a blonde flamenco dancer doll from Spain. She also has painted eyelashes and a stockinette face. I wonder if they bought them at the same place?!

  7. Hi, Salley. Since the last posting here was 10 years ago, I don’t know if you’ll ever see this, but I was just wondering if you ever found out for sure whether the dolls were Turkish? I have a female doll that I am trying to research that has the same kind of face (material and basic look) and white mesh face vail. I suspected that she was Turkish, and those aforementioned aspects of yours are the closest matches that I’ve been able to find so far. If you do somehow happen to see this, any further info that you have related to this would be greatly appreciated.

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