3502 – Wax cast of pregnant woman (with possible runic inscription)

Physical description:
Wax figure cast from Barbie? doll and modified.
Museum classification:
Poppets / Cursing & Protection
Size:
15 cm x 7cm
Information:

Description

Wax doll, missing head, arms and lower legs, with bulging pregnant stomach.  On the shoulders to mid-back, there is a T shaped mark with slanted cross that resembles the rune Naudiz but in reverse.  The mark could be accidental as it has been kept in a box with other items that may have caused damage.  The wax is dark amber in colour and is pitted with dirt and hair, especially around the truncated neck line.  The waist and rear area show signs that it has been cast from a plastic Barbie Doll.

Mattel produced a 'Midge Hanley' Barbie Doll from 1969 (reissued in the 21st century) which were modelled as pregnant young women (with plastic baby hung magnetically within the womb), but this wax image has features (stomach and breasts) which are larger and more accentuated than the Midge dolls. The doll has been made using a Barbie or similar doll has a base, with stomach and breasts added later.  There are no signs of invasive marks on the surface of the doll, nor any clear indications that the womb contains any non-wax/foreign material (compare with Object No. 1410).

Meaning

The donor writes:

"I think it is a fertility charm.  If you look at its backside you can clearly see that it was modelled on a Barbie Doll.  One can even see the grooves where the legs of the doll were hinged... The use of a Barbie Doll in the creation of the charm appears date it after March 1959."

Barbie dolls have been used in other supposed cursing magic, see Object No. 2983.

Some of the poppets in the collection have been made to promote fertility, whereas others were made to bring about an abortion or miscarriage (Object No. 10).  This item may have had a similar use.  Alternatively the item could be seen as an image of femininity and fertility.

Provenance

Given to donor by proprietor of Cape Cornwall Arts & Antiques, St. Just in 2016, who had it from a David Leys Auctioneers in Penzance.

Materials:
Wax
Copyright ownership:
MWM