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When we went to Ethiopia two and a half years ago, they had these little dolls at the guest house we stayed at that represented a traditional Ethiopian wedding. I fell in love with them but couldn’t find out who made them or where to buy some like those ones. The people at the guest house had no idea, they took me to the typical gift shops that sell Ethiopian things but there was nothing like these dolls.
Since then I was obsessed to find or to make something similar, but of course I couldn’t.
Then I started making dolls and exploring the world of mini dolls, you already saw a preview in one of my posts.
I discovered that in Japan there are experts in making toys in really small sizes. They have different techniques from knitting to felting or directly sewing felt fabric. They make such cute little things that are hard to resist and somehow they are fond of making mini food out of felt. So I went to my local Asian store, Uwajimaya in Beaverton, OR to see what I could find in the Asian bookstore Kinokuniya that is inside. I browsed among the crafts books they have and bought a couple of Japanese books. If you don’t have an Asian bookstore where you live, you can always buy online at YesAsia.com.
These books gave me amazing ideas to make my Ethiopian mini dolls and so far I have made 8 different characters, form traditionally dressed (or as close as you can get in a mini felt doll) to more modern looking. I experimented with two different skin tones, and like much more the darker hue. It’s fun to dress them up and try hair styles, I have found so many ways to make doll hair! Since they are very small (3 1/2 inches/9cm tall), it’s quite hard to add details, though.
By now I bet you want to see the results…
Well here they are, my Mamitu dolls, as I called them since that was the name of the first one I made. They are cute as buttons:

Ethiopian Dolls - front
Ethiopian Dolls - back

I created personalities for the dolls and invented a story behind each of them. There is a religious old man with a white hat, a young girl with braids and beads in traditional dress and also a little boy in traditional outfit.

Ethiopian Doll - Old Man
Ethiopian Doll - Young Girl, braidsEthiopian Doll - Young Boy

There is a guy with a Rastafarian hat which I crocheted for him, an Ethiopian angel with a big afro, and a woman wrapped in a netela.

Ethiopian Doll - Rastafarian hatEthiopian Doll - AngelEthiopian Doll - Woman

Finally there is a girl with bantu knots dressed with the Ethiopian flag colors, and a boy with jeans and a T-shirt with the “I love Ethiopia” text.

Ethiopian Doll - Bantu knotsEthiopian Doll - I love Ethiopia

I also made the props in the background for the photos, a felted toukul and some trees.
I’m still working on other characters, but so far these are the eight dolls I have finished. I hope you like them!