The Marías dolls, made of cloth and colorful ribbons, enliven a strand of Mexicanness through their lines and embroidery. Although these dolls appeared as the result of cultural syncretism between the New and Old Continents, it is believed that the first dolls, made with clay, palm and corn hair, accompanied the sepulchral rituals of children as protection against evil spirits.
After the Spanish conquest, New Hispanic toys began to mix with those of indigenous cultures, inevitably resulting in a wide diversity of uses and customs. From this hodgepodge came the top, the pirinola, the yoyos, the baleros, porcelain junk, or clay or wood figurines; European porcelain dolls and rag dolls … These rag dolls known as María, had their origin in Michoacán and the State of Mexico. They were made by the Mazahua ethnic group as a more economical and traditional alternative to the toys that were sold in the markets? Mainly porcelain dolls imported from Spain ?
As time went by, these dolls began to represent the Mazahua women who used to walk the streets of Mexico City and who were called “Marías”. It is even said that this is the reason why the dolls, with colored ribbons and typical clothing from the region, earned the name “Maria dolls”.
As the practice spread to different regions of the country, rag dolls began to diversify. While to the north the Guarijío dolls specialized, with a representative costume of this ethnic group, of bright colors and flowered fabrics, with lace applications, scarf and even black socks; in the state of Guanajuato the “Lupitas” were created, made with cardboard technique, painted with floral garments and geometric figures.
Currently, Maria dolls are a handmade representation of Mexicanity, so their creation is encouraged without the need for machines or glue. The objective is to recover the passion, love and courage of the Mazahua women who dedicated themselves to transmitting their wisdom from embroidery to embroidery, from thread to thread. The Maria doll is a handmade practice that allows to preserve the magic, tenderness and humility of all the people who have looked nostalgically at their childhood through its striking colors and regional representations. As if the symbolism of the doll was preserved in her silent smile, her infinite ribbons intertwined in her braids, her clothing so typical of the country or in the memory of a girl holding her only rag doll.