Representation Power of Folkloric Dolls: The Case of Elif Doll Project


MILLI FOLKLOR, no.123, pp.134-149, 2019 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Journal Name: MILLI FOLKLOR
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.134-149
  • Keywords: Olgunlasma Institutes, Elif Doll, national identity, typology, traditional clothes


Folkloric dolls are perceived as an important agent in transmitting the culture of traditional clothing to the next generations. Associating the traditional clothing culture to the national identity brings into an authority to them at international level. Thus, folkloric dolls are accepted as a significant component of cultural tourism. In different parts of Turkey, varied traditional clothed folkloric dolls have been manufactured by means of several techniques and materials. Folkloric dolls produced in Turkey, like a miniature, reflects the concerning regions' traditional clothing culture. However, the success of reflecting traditional clothes has not equally worked out in body designs of dolls. Government agencies i.e. the Ministry of Culture and the National Ministry of Education have been working on the designs of a national doll since 1970. Criteria like the similarity to the typology of Turkish people in terms of physical appearance, a reflection of traditional clothes realistically, and being convenient for mass production become prominent in a doll design. Aiming to find the best national doll design, several background works have been realized by means of organizing folkloric dolls competitions at the national level. Elif Doll Project, started by Olgunlasma Institute in 2009, can be accepted as one of the latest examples of the goal of national dolls creation. Elif Doll is one of the folkloric dolls in Turkey whereas it becomes distinctive in terms of typology, clothes designs, and its institutional support thereby relatively gains more power of national authority. Elif doll has been introduced as the folkloric doll that is reflecting the national characteristics and traditional clothing culture as well as announced as "The first traditional doll of Turkey" in a press conference given by the Minister of National Education chairing at that term. Olgunlasma Institutes has designed twenty types of Elif dolls representing the traditional clothing culture of Turkey's varied regions. The Trabzon Olgunlasma Institute was responsible for manufacturing the doll's body, Antalya Olgunlasma Institute for the doll's jewelry, and Ankara and Istanbul Sabana Olgunlasma Institutes were responsible for the embroidery, sewing, the quality control and packaging for sale. In this article, the question of how the national identity was presented through Elif Doll will be discussed. The processes like the determination of the doll's name, typology, selecting clothes will be addressed from the point of creating a national image. Elif Doll Project will be evaluated by means of benefiting from the semi-structured interviews with the teachers of Olgunlasma Institutes and the gathered news in written and visual media on Elif Dolls. Elif Dolls are basically criticized with regards to the gum tragacanth-like casting bodies and aesthetical clothing compositions instead of reflecting the traditional clothing culture of Turkey regionally. As a concluding remark, it is revealed that whether the clothes and typology of Elif Dolls are reflecting the national identity or not still remains a controversial issue even inside Olgunlasma Institutes.