The Story Behind the Machi Cloth Doll
This Machi cloth doll was inspired by the title of my dad’s book ‘Cry of the Machi‘. This is a fictional novel, which weaves together a murder mystery, Mapuche Indian shamanic rituals with the quaint English tradition of Morris Dancing.
Mapuche Indian ‘Machis’
Machis are usually female. They hold a similar role to that of a shaman. Consequently she plays a central role in traditional Mapuche culture. Furthermore, these spiritual women perform many rituals. Most notably warding off disease or evil spirits or trying to influence the weather for a better harvest.
Creating the Machi Look
Other than the descriptions in my dad’s book, I had very little to go on with regards to the aesthetics of this project. I did not know much about Machis before starting this doll. Therefore, I naturally did a google image search and created a Pinterest board to get me started.
The Mapuchi Indian Clothing
The Machi dolls’ clothing is based on a combination of images that I discovered during my visual research. Consequently, I was able to include the fabrics I already had in my material collection. This is because, many of the pictures showed the women wearing patterned dresses over long sleeved blue shirts, which became my starting point.
Her look is accompanied with a tartan shawl. This is similar to my traditional Welsh doll. Heavy discs of metal, adorn her as a necklace. Each main piece of jewellery and bracelets have been adapted from existing necklaces and beads. These were all thrifted from a second hand store.
Her cloak is held together with a crescent button that I already had. This, I felt fitted in nicely with the shamanic and magical element.
The Machi Headdress
The Machis’ outfit is completed with an elaborate and floral headpiece. My version was created from a piece of elasticated fabric. This is decorated with a handmade fabric flower. In addition silver discs to echo her necklace using the same piece of adapted jewellery.
To create her thick black hair, I cut up strips of old T-shirt material. I stretched slightly to encourage the fabric to curl a little and to soften any harsh edges.
Exploring Other Cultures
This has been a great opportunity to explore clothing from other traditions. As a result, I would like to research and make other dolls inspired by other cultures around the world.
Originally published July 20th 2015. This post is dedicated in loving memory to my late father, Alan Blood. He would have been seventy-four this week. This doll was created for his 70th birthday.