- Category Recreational artifacts
- Sub-category Public entertainment device
- Department Folklore
- Museum CMH
- Earliest 1891/01/01
- Latest 1981/10/05
- Materials Wood
- Measurements Height 36.9 cm, Width 9.5 cm, Depth 7.0 cm
- Related activity Puppetry
- Caption Black Dancing Doll, Nova Scotia, 19th century
- Additional Information The tradition of articulated wooden dolls is well known throughout the Western world, and reached its peak with the so-called Dutch dolls, or "penny woodens," of the nineteenth century. In Canada, this type of doll is often crafted to dance in time to traditional music. Manipulated by a stick attached to its back, the loose-jointed doll is held above a flexible board, its feet lightly touching; the board is tapped in time to the music, causing the doll to bounce in noisy imitation of step or clog dancing. The forms of these dancing dolls, or "limberjacks" as they are also known, vary considerably, some having articulated feet, arms and heads, in addition to the more commonly jointed knees and hips. Some are highly decorated and carved in three-dimensional form, while others are more simply made and are essentially flat. The dolls can also serve as outlets for the artist's sense of humour or whimsy. An example of the blackface dancing dolls, or limberjacks, of Nova Scotia, this well-aged specimen from the South Shore was probably made in the nineteenth century.
- Caption Limberjack
(Alternate names: Jig Doll, Dancing Doll)
Wooden figure with articulated limbs, held by a rod attached to its back, and made to move - "dance" - when a plank of wood is vibrated beneath its feet. The arms are usually articulated at the shoulder, sometimes also at the elbow and wrist, and the legs can have as many as four joints. At the sound of music - traditionally that of the fiddle - the limberjack is made to "dance", or "jig". The actual manipulation of the puppet has a musical aspect as well, given that the noise of the puppet's feet on the plank creates various rhythms in time with the music.