NA Dolls Its almost PowWow season and in the area and across the nation NA POW WOW’s or Gatherings are starting. So what is a good NA doll to collect? Story teller dolls, leather, grand mother, And which nation to collect? In truth every NA doll is worthwhile collecting from the older the more valuable or the newer ones that may be made by living legends and living treasures or starting artists. True NA dolls are often made from moose, deer or elk. But since some of those leathers may be unavailable, many artists use what ever is available. When looking at NA dolls that will last, be played with and still retain value look for traditional construction. Look for trade glass or ceramic beads; knot work, fringes, wool/cotton natural fiberfill, horse hair/wool or roving for hair, natural brilliant paints (not acrylic). The artwork of an NA doll is unique and simplistic. Often a single body style pattern or simple appendages to a simple body. Sewn with waxed linen thread, silk thread, cotton thread, Soft leather or chamois. Some older dolls were made from trade cloth or oilcloth as well. But not blended fabrics. Some wore leather dresses, velvet dresses such as the Navajo or Seminole dolls, calico was also an important fabric. Just make sure they are not modern blends. They can fool the unsuspecting person. And if you should find a doll that has been redressed, do some detective work to make sure the repair and dress stayed within the materials originally used. Make sure of the accuracy of the nation. We can see at some flea markets dolls are not labeled which is actually better than being mislabeled. But some cases the seller wants a higher amount so they will label a doll Cherokee even if its not, or Choctaw for more popular” nations. Some nations that have disappeared all together still have dolls and artifacts. And some artisans will recreate them in modern materials or artificially age an item to look old. Cultures that no longer exist and have items in museum exhibits and curators libraries are often reproduced. Souvenir dolls often plastic and dressed in microsuede/imitation leather or other materials or even some leather can be fun to collect. Storyteller dolls are sculptures. These are made from clay and show a main figure surrounded by lots of little “ children” figures. Storyteller dolls are in almost every culture in the world. On a personal note I love them. There is something soothing and comforting about them. These can be true antiques or reproductions or artisan styles. If you choose an artisan style make sure they sign int. As these are very collectible. Each artist brings a style, flair and happy secure looking face to their story teller. Collecting NA dolls can be very time consuming as there are thousands of styles and each doll has a specific use, character and history. You may get more than you expect when you begin this collection. Locally in the East Tennessee area your best bet is to visit Cherokee North Carolina Museum of the Cherokees to see and know more.
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