Inuit Dolls from Prehistory to Today
Decoration   Decoration

The oldest dolls found in Canada were made by the ancestors of the Inuit living at Brooman Point, on Bathurst Island, about a thousand years ago. The Inuit have inhabited the Arctic for at least two thousand years. We do not know at what point in their history they began making dolls, but it is certainly an ancient tradition.

It is easy to imagine these small figures as playthings. A tiny doll could be tucked into a mitten or a hood and carried from place to place as the community moved in search of food. Inuit girls learned to cut and sew skins and fur by making a doll to play with. Sewing was a vital skill that had to be practised from an early age because warm waterproof clothing was essential for survival.

Inuit hunters sometimes mounted a small doll on their boats to bring them luck. Today, Inuit dolls are made for collectors and tourists. They tend to be much larger and include modern materials.

Decoration   Decoration

Inuit female doll

ca. 1950
Inukjuak (Port Harrison), Quebec
Leather head, fur hair, caribou parka, sewn with sinew
CMC IV-B-1603


IV-B-1603 - Photo: S. Darby
D-Z-A-15 - CD94-559-035 Inuit male doll

Waterproof fish-gut parka
CMC D-Z-A-15


Inuit male doll

ca. 1950
Leather head, sealskin coat, sewn with sinew
CMC IV-B-1602 a, b


IV-B-1602 a,b - Photo: S. Darby
IV-B-1605 - Photo: S. Darby Inuit female doll

ca. 1950
Inukjuak (Port Harrison), Quebec
Soapstone head, carrying ivory fish and ulu
CMC IV-B-1605


What is a Doll? | Inuit Dolls from Prehistory to Today | First Nations Dolls
Settlers' Dolls - Dolls Made at Home | Antique China and Parian Dolls
Antique Dolls Imported from Europe | Eaton's Beauty Dolls
The Birth of the Canadian Doll Industry | The Heyday of the Composition Doll
The Vinyl Doll Era | Canadian Original Doll Artists | Mechanical Dolls | Web Sites | Credits