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Early American Cornhusk Doll Kit


Continued from product description on Historical Doll Kits' Page Three...

Historical Background: Corn began from a strain of the grass "teosinte" and still grows wild in parts of Mexico. Some 6,000-year-old corncob fossils exist that are only one-inch long and have less than ten kernels! The Aztec, Maya, and Inca peoples began to cultivate corn and, during the 1400s, corn growing spread to Argentina, Chile, and Canada. The Navajo, Hopi, and Pueblos eventually learned to grow corn. Christopher Columbus took seeds from Cuba to Spain in 1492 and by the late 1500s, corn was growing in Africa, Asia, southern Europe, and the Middle East.

Corn is also known as "maize." Corn is now one of the world's most important crops. The United States produces about two-fifths of the world's corn. Corn grows best in the Corn Belt, a region of the American Midwest, which includes Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Indiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Missouri, South Dakota, and Kansas. Other major corn-producing countries include Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Mexico, and Romania.

American colonists learned to grow corn from the Indians and depended on corn as one their basic food staples during the 1600s and 1700s. The Indians also taught these early settlers how to make cornhusk dolls. The dolls could be made with corn husk clothing or real fabric scraps; plus, other decorative ornaments could be added to the corn husk doll to make it as beautiful as any little girl wanted.

Native Americans did not waste any part of the corn. Cornstalks were used for poles to support crops or as walking sticks or kindling for fires. Corncobs were used to make pipes or soaked in fat and used for fire starters. Cornhusks were also used to weave mats and make dolls. Corn silk was used for healing teas.

The general idea that a doll would be a lasting toy is not a belief of many Indian tribes. Even a very beautifully decorated cornhusk doll would be expected to fall apart. A cornhusk doll, like many playthings, would naturally disintegrate over time and as the child grew older, he or she would no longer need the toy anyway.

Some cornhusk dolls were used in sacred healing ceremonies. An Iroquois cornhusk doll was made to carry away the evil spirit of a dream, and the doll was later put back to earth after it had served its purpose. The Oneida tribe has a legend about why the cornhusk doll has no face. (See www.manataka.org/page67.html)

While making your own cornhusk doll, imagine yourself as a Colonial settler's daughter who is being taught by a Native American girl. Even though they may not have spoken the same language, these girls could share in the tradition of making dolls together.

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Early American Cornhusk Doll Kit
Early American Cornhusk Doll Kit
Item Number 4710

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