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‘. A fictional novel, which weaves together a murder mystery involving Mapuche Indian shamanic rituals with the quaint English tradition of Morris Dancing.
Mapuche Indian ‘Machis’
Machis are usually female with a similar role to that of a shaman. She plays a central role in traditional Mapuche culture. 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 (similar to my traditional Welsh doll) and heavily adorned jewellery, usually discs of metal. Each main piece of jewellery and bracelets were adapted from necklaces and beads I bought from a second hand store. The 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, decorated with a handmade fabric flower and additional pieces of 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 that 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 and culture from other traditions and at some point I would like to research and make other dolls inspired by people around the world.
Originally published July 20th 2015. This post is dedicated in loving memory to my late father, Alan Blood, who would have been seventy-four this week and the doll was created for his 70th birthday.