Innu Tea Dolls
Cotton dress, smoke tanned caribou hide, wool hair, felt, beads, loose tea, 34 cm. - These doll were made by three elderly ladies from Labrador!
INNU TEA DOLLS
Prior to the 1950's, the Labrador Innu bands were migratory. When the Innu people of Sheshatshui, Labrador travelled to the hunting grounds, everyone was expected to carry his or her share of the load. The children carried their share by bringing along a doll that held a reserve of tea.Tea doll bodies are sewn of plain broadcloth and faces and hands are usually of smoked-tanned caribou skin with embroidered features. The body is filled with approximately two pounds of loose tea. The appearance of the tea dolls is quite impressive, as they display jet black yarn hair under traditional style hats made from contrasting colours of stroud with beaded trim. The under clothing is made of flannelette. The apron and the dress are produced from various colours of broadcloth. Tea dolls' stockings are knit from brightly coloured yarns and the moccasins are sewn from soft home-smoked caribou skin. When the lady of the camp needed to remove the tea, to provide a nice warm drink for her man, the doll could be re-stuffed with grass or leaves. Today people are interested in buying the doll so they can proudly display a treasured item to remind them of an era past. Selling the doll presents no problems for the Innu craft producers, however, supplying the constant demand does.