Dolls representing the history and tradition of Mexico’s indigenous culture

A Mexican rag doll will be your best memory

Remember the first time you saw a traditional Mexican doll? It’s difficult not to recognize them, there is a wide variety of rag dolls in Mexico, but undoubtedly the most famous are the María doll, the Donxu doll, and the Lele doll. They are unmistakable with their traditional dresses and braids with colored ribbons. These beautiful dolls are filled with the history and tradition of Mexico’s indigenous culture.

Dolls representing the history and tradition of Mexico’s indigenous culture
Photo by @sergio_fabila

In any of the markets, streets, and tourist squares of the country, you will find the Otomí and Mazahua indigenous women responsible for making this beautiful craft. They migrated in the 70’s to the capital of the country in search of better opportunities, thus making known their main craft activity that is the elaboration of textiles such as girdles, morrales, rebozos, skirts, and dolls.

These indigenous groups remain in central Mexico, in the states of Hidalgo, Querétaro, State of Mexico, Guanajuato, Michoacán, Puebla, and Veracruz. In 2018 the artisan doll of Amealco was declared Cultural Heritage of the State of Querétaro along with the Donxu, native of San Ildefonso Tultepec, and Lele, native of Santiago Mexquititlán.

Today, you can find an infinite number of rag dolls who represent the way indigenous women dress; with their black hair braided with bright colored ribbons, their embroidered blouses, and their unmistakable skirts full of colors and life. Their purpose was not to be a toy but to protect children from evil spirits, for this reason, every design and dress they make has a very ancient and special meaning in their culture.

In each region of the Mexican Republic, indigenous women have created their own versions. Some braid the ribbons with their hair while others create crowns along with the head with these colorful ribbons. The size and colors in their skirts; the strips, aprons, or girdles are some of the differences that you can notice in the Mexican rag dolls. But without a doubt, something that characterizes them all is their friendly embroidered face.

Most of them are handmade with beautiful embroidered blanket fabrics; this makes each doll totally unique. The María dolls are distinguished by being the most popular version of the rag doll. In some regions they are still 100% handmade, measuring between 5 and 60 centimeters high. Their typical features are the colored ribbons on the head and braid, stuffed with “wadding”, traditional fabrics, and tufts for their typical costumes and their face (eyes, nose, and mouth) are embroidered.

Other versions are the Lele doll and the Donxu doll, each with its different variables in their clothing.

No matter what your next destination in Mexico is, getting a rag doll will be your best memory and you will be supporting these great women who throughout history continue to leave their mark. 

When you visit Xcaret and Xoximilco Park, you can find these wonderful Mexican dolls for sale in our craft stores.

Read more about Mexican craftmanship workshops you can take in the Mayan Village in Xcaret: 5 Interactive Workshops in Xcaret