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Object: Doll

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Title Doll
Production Murray, Bessie (manufacturer(s)), circa 1930, Taihape
Materials cotton, wool, linen, silk, glass
Classification dolls
Dimensions Overall: 280mm (Height)
Credit line Gift of Mr and Mrs I C Ferguson, 1989
Registration number GH003664

This doll is known as a mother-and-child doll. It was made by Taihape widow Bessie Murray for sale in local drapery stores and tourist outlets in the mid and lower North Island to support her family in the late 1920s and 1930s.

Murray based the doll on carefully recorded sketches and paintings of the dress and moko (facial tattoo) of the Mäori women who sat on the seat in front of the local baker's shop in Taihape.

The doll has delicately painted features with moko, woollen hair, and finely stitched head, arms, and body. She is dressed in a silk skirt and woollen shawl. A flax kete (bag) is carefully replicated through the use of unbleached linen worked with black woollen yarn. The hei tiki (greenstone pendant) and ear pendants are made from tiny glass. A wide-awake baby is tucked into her shawl.

Murray registered two of her designs at the Patents Office in 1927 and 1931. The registration information is found on the base of the cylindrical fabric body.

Bessie Murray's work is highly regarded, and her Mäori mother-and-child dolls represent some of her best and most popular work. They are noted for their realism and for their sensitive portrayals of Mäori.

Related information

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