What exactly are Worry Dolls?

Worry Dolls, or sometimes called Trouble Dolls (in Spanish they are refered to as Muñeca quitapena) are small, “dolls” that originate from Guatemala, although they are also found in parts of Mexico.

 

Map of Guatemala and surrounding Central American countries

Map of Guatemala and surrounding Central American countries


HOW ARE WORRY DOLLS MADE?

Worry Dolls being made in Guatemala

Worry Dolls being made in Guatemala

In Guatemala, they are made by hand using a base of wood or wire, wool and recycled colourful textile leftovers.
The dolls are then dressed in a traditional Mayan style.
The size of each doll can vary, but are usually between 1 and 3 cm tall.

The face of the doll is created from cotton, cardboard & paper, or clay and the outer clothing from wool or “aguayo” – a traditional Guatemalan cloth.

Guatemalan Worry Doll in traditional Mayan dress

Guatemalan Worry Doll in traditional Mayan dress


HOW DO THEY WORK?

According to the tradition of the Mayans from the Guatemalan highlands, when children are scared, brooding or have nightmares, parents give them worry dolls before they go to sleep.
They would tell their doll about their sorrows, fears and worries.
The children then put the dolls under their pillow at night and when they wake up, their worries or concerns are gone!

Interestingly, the doll worries about the problem, not the person, allowing the child to sleep peacefully.
The worries stay with the doll, which will have to be caressed to prevent it from being in pain.

Worry Doll in Embroidered Drawstring Bag Handmade in Guatemala

Worry Doll in Embroidered Drawstring Bag Handmade in Guatemala


THE LOCAL LEGEND:

In the dolls’ original Guatemalan tradition, a local legend about the origin of the Muñeca quitapena
refers to a Mayan princess named Ixmucane.
The princess received a special gift from the Sun God which would allow her to solve any problem a human could worry about.

 

AND TODAY:

Worry dolls are often presented in boxes or fabric bags & in groups of 6 – one for each day of the week, giving them the option to rest for a day.
Worry dolls are sold in large quantities in Guatemala and Mexico.
Often, Nuns and poor local children sell them to tourists to take home as souvenirs.

The women who make these worry dolls at CreArte live mostly in the rural areas of Guatemala.
Making dolls provides an important supplement to the income they get from agriculture.

 

You can get your own Guatemalan Worry Dolls here…

 

Thanks again for reading my blog post – Paul

Have you have any worries or concerns to share? Hopefully not!
But maybe you have had your own experiences with worry dolls? If so, leave them in the Comments section below…