Material: Clay and marble
Provenance: Doll from tomb at Tanagra and grave stele from Athens
Date: 425-400 B.C.(doll) and early 4th century B.C. (grave stele)
Exhibition place: doll: Room 58, Case 6, inv. no. 4752; grave stele: Room, Case, inv. no. 1993
Dolls were made of wax, wood, ivory but, above all, of clay and were the favourite toys of girls in antiquity. They depicted women with varied hair styles and painted clothes, although they occasionally wore dresses made of fabric. Those who modelled figurines of dolls were known as coroplasts (creators of maidens). Since the joints on their shoulders, thighs or knees, articulated by means of thread or wire, allowed their limbs to move freely, these puppets produced the impression of having no tendons in these areas. Their ancient name (nevrospata) exactly describes this characteristic.
Besides entertainment, dolls introduced the young female population to the role destined for it: to be good wives, housekeepers and mothers of healthy children. Before marriage, girls dedicated their dolls along with their other games and a lock of their hair to the goddesses Artemis, who protected transitions in human life and helped couples to conceive, and Aphrodite, who safeguarded love and fertility. This is to be expected, since, with the exception of Sparta and its unique conditions, women were married at the early age of 12-14 years. On grave stelai of girls who died young, the deceased are represented holding such a doll in the presence of their mother or the slave, the scene being set probably in the women's apartments, where the society of the time kept them.
┬ibliography: ╠. Fitta, Spiele und Spielzeug in der Antike. Unterhaltung und Vergnugen im Altertum, Stuttgart 1998, 56-59. ╔oanna ╠ennenga, in ═. ╩altas and A. Shapiro (eds), Worshiping women. Ritual and Reality in Classical Athens, Catalogue of exhibition in New York-Athens 2009, 304-305.