If you’ve ever spent time in or around Amish country, you’ve likely come across displays of famous Amish rag dolls. You may have even seen some children playing with them.
Have you ever wondered about the story behind these distinct dolls? Have you been curious about their unique style or lack of face? If so, keep reading. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Amish dolls is explained below.
The Amish: The Basics
Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the Amish, mainly because of their aversion to technology and other modern conveniences. At the same time, though, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding this group of people and how they came to be.
Jacob Amman, a Swiss Anabaptist (a fringe offshoot of the Protestant Reformation and an ancestor of Baptists, Mennonites, and Quakers), is credited with founding the Amish movement in Europe during the 16th century. The Amish eventually split from the Mennonites because Amman insisted on living more strictly and conservatively.
In response to heavy persecution in Europe, the Amish emigrated to North America. They were attracted to the promise of religious freedom touted by William Penn, and they first made their home in what is now known as Pennsylvania.
The Amish faith has grown significantly since this time. Currently, there are more than 250,000 Amish people who live throughout North America, in both the United States and Canada.
Amish Dolls: Where Are Their Faces?
Amish children do not watch cartoons or play video games. However, they do play with dolls — namely, dolls without faces.
Amish dolls are typically made from old, used clothing and are dressed similarly to male and female Amish children. They resemble traditional rag dolls in many ways, except for their missing faces, of course.
Amish dolls do not have faces or distinct features because, per Amish theology, everyone is the same in the eyes of God.
Another theory states that the Amish do not approve of dolls with faces because they can potentially be possessed by demons who will use the dolls’ “senses.” If the dolls do not have eyes, ears, mouths, or noses, demons will not be able to possess them and see children playing, hear conversations, or communicate. Most Amish dolls also do not have fingers, which further lends credence to this theory.
Some people have also hypothesized that Amish dolls are featureless for the same reason that the Amish do not allow themselves to be photographed. Printed pictures are considered graven images, which can be possessed by demonic forces, and dolls with faces fall into this same category.
At first, these dolls might seem a little eerie. When you learn the deeply rooted religious reasoning for their faceless appearance, though, they become even more interesting.
Where to Buy Amish Dolls
If you ever visit Amish country, you won’t have trouble finding an Amish doll or two to pick up as a souvenir. You can also buy replicas online from a variety of retailers, including independent creators selling their wares on Etsy.