Sioux: Dancer Doll
Materials: wood, feathers, beads, leather
This object is a Northern Plains style traditional “fancy dance” doll. It measures about 14.5 inches in height. The body of the doll is made of carved wood and is painted brown, with red paint under the eyes and across the face. The doll has black braided hair wrapped in brown leather. A hair roach made from deer hair and two blue feathers is attached. The doll is wearing a headband; it is beaded with seed beads of white, red, yellow, brown, and blue and contains a small rosette at the center of the forehead. A line of white beads hangs from the headband around each eye. The doll is wearing a silver and turquoise beaded choker and two wrist bands made from seed beads and leather fringe. The dance costume is comprised of gray suede material with a machine-stitched design. A band of bells is attached at the knees.
The back of the doll contains a gray suede bustle and beaded rosette. The bustle contains 22 blue and white Blue Jay feathers. A beaded rosette is at the center of the gray suede bustle. Two leather shoulder straps are decorated with white, red, yellow, blue, and black beads. The doll’s legs are painted black from below the knee to the mid-thigh and are covered in white rabbit fur. The figure is in a dancing position, mounted on an oval, wooden stand.
The dancing doll is fashioned in the Northern Plains style of a Sioux dancer. The regalia is similar to that used in a contemporary dance called the fancy dance. When many Native American religious dances were outlawed by the United States and Canadian governments in the 1920s and 1930s, the fancy dance style was created to allow communities to continue dancing in public. The fancy dance style originated in Oklahoma and was initially performed for spectators of wild west shows. The style grew in popularity, however, and is now one of the most anticipated dances at modern Pow Wows.