National doll produced to represent a Malaysian woman. It was purchased for Monica Gates in 1977 while the family was on holiday. They travelled across the causeway from Singapore to Malaysia and saw a woman selling all sorts of dolls in the market at Johore Bahru. The doll is intended to represent a typical food hawker. Malaysia is a multi-ethnic society with each group having particular customs and traditions. While Western dress is often worn when traditional clothing is worn: Malay women commonly wear: baju kurung, a knee-length blouse worn over a long skirt; Chinese women wear the cheongsam, a one-piece dress with a high collar, diagonally closed with small clips; Indian women wear a saree; and Orang Asal (collective term for the indigenous people of Malaysia) women traditionally wore clothing made from natural materials.

The Gates collection contains 170 national dolls from 74 different countries and some correspondence relating to the acquisition of several of the dolls. The costumes of the dolls represent national costumes from the 19th Century to the 1990s. Monica Gates collected or was given these dolls between 1957 and 1990.

These dolls were purchased as souvenirs of particular countries and like many mass produced souvenirs they are often not accurate representations of a particular country or region, and may actually better reflect neighbouring counties or regions. This occurs because costumes are often stylised and simplified resulting dolls wearing generic costume elements which are common to many countries/regions. Often the fabrics and decorations used are selected to make the dolls cheap and easy to manufacture and aesthetically pleasing. This can result in the fabrics, colours and decorations of the doll's clothing having little or no reflection of the costume associated with a particular country or region they are meant to be representative of.

Physical Description

Doll, mounted on circular black wooden base. Body, limbs and head formed of nylon covered wire. Dressed in black wide legged trousers with a fine white stripe and a matching shirt. Green and red checked apron and red velvet fez. The doll is carrying two containers hanging from a pole over his shoulder.

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