Wednesday, February 17, 2010

And now, making their 10th Ash Wednesday appearance . . .

. . . the mysterious little Carnival Dolls!

I purchased these adorable dolls in Basel, Switzerland ten years ago just before Carnival. Like many European cities, Basel has a fun Carnival, but with a twist. It begins on the Monday after Ash Wednesday . . . and it's rather orderly. There's even a rule about the confetti - no multi-colored allowed. This is actually a great rule because confetti is sold in solid colors, so if you're tossing Confetti of Many-Colors, you've scooped it up from the street. And that's pretty yucky - even in ├╝ber-clean Switzerland!

The doll heads, hands, and feet are wooden and the bodies are bendable - almost like sturdy chenille craft sticks (formerly known as pipe-cleaners - really!). The mystery of the dolls is who they are and why they're sold only during Carnival (Basler Fasnacht). I spent lots of time working in Basel in the late '90s, but never learned the story of the dolls. But, I'm sure there's more to them than simply representing Carnival costumes . . . perhaps someone in Blogland knows their significance?

The Harlequin was tricky to photograph; I was even starting to think he might be like a real Harlequin when he somersaulted onto the floor!

I love this one - which I think of as colonial even though Switzerland was anything but colonial during this period! Perhaps he represents a famous musician or scientist from the 1700s? Well, we may never know his true identity, but he seems at home here. And, what's life without a few mysteries?

Wishing you a nice Ash Wednesday with no big mysteries.

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