Please bear with me on this long description. The Shakers are so fascinating. They are a real part of Americana and have shaped our history in subtle but real ways. Let me say, here, that I have two of these dolls and they are sold separately. Also, the 'Shaker Manifesto' will be sold separately, for ten dollars--should you want it with your doll if you buy one. They are rare to find.
I have displayed these dolls with the 'Manifesto' and the little spinning wheel in a photo, to show you how they look together. The doll in this listing is the doll in brown, on the right, in her Dorothy cape. Should a buyer wish to have both dolls, the Manifesto, and the spinning wheel to create the same tableau, please email me and we will work out a very fair price. But I am selling them separately as I think that is what most buyers want.
So...back to the description:
The doll is an A&M dolly face with kid body, which is not rare, but the people who dressed the doll makes her a rarity. She is from the Shaker community, and she is 12" tall.
I am not sure what A&M doll this is, as her markings are under the kid body--which is in very good condition by what I can see under her clothes. It is risky to remove the dress and the underthings as they are just too old to tug on. Her head and hands are not damaged. Her feet are part of the kid body; either cloth or kid. The stockings fit her feet so closely I dare not pull them off. All undressing requires tugging at some point! Ugh.
Her little Shaker lady's costume is authentic in every detail. Her original woolen frock with pleated skirt has some staining. Her Bertha collar is edged in lace and drapes completely over the frock’s bodice. There is lace on the cuff and collar as well. She wears the signature Shaker wool cape known as a ‘Dorothy', and her woven splint bonnet, made of poplar—a soft wood. Her pantaloons, her shift, and her petticoat are complete. There is a stain on the front of her petticoat, under her frock. All of it is as well made as if a real Shaker woman was expected to wear the ensemble. Her garments do have a few condition issues, though, and she is priced accordingly.
Like other religious establishments, such as the Moravians or the Presbyterians, Shakers made dolls to bring in capital. In fact, they believed in Godly commerce’. They purchased common bisque head dolls, like this child, in bulk and dressed them as Shaker women to sell to tourists. (I would love to find a Shaker man doll!) Doll clothes were made from the scraps of wool that Shaker women wove from their own sheep. They also wove the bonnets from scraps of wooden splints from their baskets. Talk about recycling.
“Simple Gifts’ is a Shaker hymn made famous in Aaron Copeland’s “Appalachian Spring”. It was made into a ballet choreographed by Martha Graham and ever since, the song has gained in popularity. It is a lovely song with a lovely message. I have to put this in. Skip over if it doesn’t interest you. Quoted from good ol’ Wikipedia. Luv me some Wiki-P!
"Simple Gifts" was written by Elder Joseph while he was at the Shaker community in Alfred, Maine. These are the lyrics to his one-verse song:
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.
Shaker information indicate that this is a 'Dancing Song' or a 'Quick Dance’. (I’d dance to this at church. Wouldn’t you?) ‘Turning' is a common theme in Christian theology indicating a spiritual awakening. But the references to turning in the last two lines of this song are also dance instructions. When the traditional dance is performed properly, each dancer ends up where he or she began; "come 'round right."
Info on Shakers themselves: They were also called 'The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing’, and were a millenarian restorationist Christian sect. They thought the end of the world was nigh, like so many sects. It was founded in the 18th century in England, by Ann Lee of Manchester. They were called the "Shaking Quakers" because of their ecstatic movements during services. Women assumed leadership roles within the sect; notably Jane Wardley, Mother Ann Lee, and Mother Lucy Wright. Shakers believed in pacifism and equality of the sexes—practicing a celibate and communal lifestyle of simplicity. That purity and simplicity is seen in their architecture, basket weaving, furniture, their recipes and their horticulture, and in their distinctive way of dress.
I researched and as of 2011, there was one active Shaker village left in central Maine. There were three members. Other existing Shaker villages are all museums. They should have left out that celibate part.
This Shaker dressed dolly is representatives of the Shakers’ dedication to godly living with their communal lifestyle. These dolls are prized when you find them. I have two. The other girl is dressed in pink. I will list her very soon.
Thank you for checking in. Please ask any questions. I am always pleased to answer. Best wishes.
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