A doll for all ages

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Doll handmade by Alona.

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For many years Alona and her son, Andrei, have taken English lessons together.  Now Andrei is in his 1st year at university where he qualified for Advance Placement English. (Congratulations, Andrei!)  Alona continues her English lessons at home and contributed this wonderful story. The doll at the left was made by her for InterestEng’s editor. 


THIS beautiful doll, called Lailka Motanka, is the traditional doll of our country, Ukraine. These dolls are a very, very old tradition. Lailka Motanka means “winding doll” in Ukrainian, because of the thread around the doll’s head.

     The face never has eyes because people long ago thought that if a doll had eyes, the doll could hurt a child by looking at the child with its eyes. From long ago there were many different kinds of these dolls. Some were small and made for newborn babies. They were made with only 1 piece of cloth. In the center of the cloth mothers put a piece of bread for the head. The child could suck on the head like little children suck on pacifiers today. 

     Some dolls were made with rice inside as a symbol of a good harvest to come. Some were made to give as gifts at a wedding to the bride. They had very fancy dresses. These dolls were bigger, as a symbol of a big family with many, healthy children.

     Everything about a lailka doll has meaning. Even the colors that you choose have meaning: red means love, white means a pure soul, yellow means a good harvest and a little black is always put on the doll because every life has sorrow. Each region in Ukraine has its own style of doll.  They have different hair styles and head pieces. The faces are different and the dresses are very different.  But the cloth used to make the doll is always linen. 

     Even today you will find these dolls in many homes. They are not just souvenirs for tourists. Today many women can make these by hand.  Even in school, children are taught how to make this doll. —Alona


Editor’s note:  Copy and paste these 2 Ukrainian words into Google search. Then click “images” and feast your eyes!   лялька мотанка 


 ©InterestEng. July 2013  §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com