The Mysterious Story Behind Amish Dolls

Amish Boy and Girl Doll Set
Photo: Amish Workshops

If you’ve ever been around Amish country, you’ve probably noticed the famous Amish rag dolls displayed or even seen children playing with them. But have you ever wondered about the unique style and missing faces of these dolls? If so, keep reading because we’re about to delve into everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Amish dolls.

The Amish: A Brief Overview

Most people have a vague understanding of the Amish community, mainly due to their rejection of technology and modern conveniences. However, there’s a lot of confusion surrounding their origins and beliefs. To shed some light on this, let’s explore their history.

The Amish movement was founded by Jacob Amman, a Swiss Anabaptist who lived during the 16th century. Anabaptism, an offshoot of the Protestant Reformation, is the ancestor of various denominations like Baptists, Mennonites, and Quakers. The Amish split from the Mennonites to pursue a more conservative and devout lifestyle.

In search of religious freedom, the Amish emigrated from Europe to North America, specifically settling in what is now Pennsylvania. Over time, their community grew, and today there are more than 250,000 Amish individuals living in the United States and Canada.

The Mystery of Amish Dolls

Amish children refrain from watching cartoons or playing video games. However, they do enjoy playing with dolls, but not just any dolls – dolls without faces.

Amish dolls are often crafted from recycled clothing and dressed in the traditional attire worn by Amish boys and girls. They share similarities with classic rag dolls, with one distinct difference – they have no facial features.

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Why do Amish dolls lack faces? According to Amish theology, everyone is equal in the eyes of God, and thus, no one should be distinguished based on physical appearance.

Another theory behind the absence of facial features suggests that the Amish believe dolls with faces can be possessed by demons. By removing the dolls’ eyes, ears, mouths, and noses, they prevent any potential possession. Some dolls even lack fingers, further supporting this theory.

Another similarity can be drawn between faceless dolls and the Amish aversion to photographs. Printed images are considered graven and can be susceptible to demonic influence. As a result, dolls with faces fall into the same category.

Initially, these dolls might strike you as eerie. However, when you understand the deeply rooted religious reasoning behind their lack of faces, they become even more intriguing.

Handmade Amish Pillowcase Doll
Photo: Katerina Papathanasiou / The Vale Magazine

Where to Find Amish Dolls

If you ever find yourself in Amish country, you won’t have any trouble locating an Amish doll or two to bring home as a souvenir. Additionally, you can find replicas online from various retailers, including independent creators on platforms like Etsy.

So, the next time you encounter an Amish doll, you’ll have a newfound appreciation for their unique appearance and the rich cultural and religious significance behind them.

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