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Worry Dolls Explained

Worry Dolls, also known as Muñeca Quitapena, originated in the Mayan areas of Guatemala and Mexico. They are handmade using a base of wool or wire and colorful fabrics.

According to Mayan tradition, parents give them to their children at night if they're scared. They put them under their pillows and when they wake up, their concerns are gone. The legend of a Mayan princess named Ixmucane received a special gift from their Sun God and it allows her to solve any problem someone might be worried about. 

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Worry dolls, or trouble dolls, (in Spanish they are referred to as Muñeca quitapena) are small, “dolls” that originate
from Guatemala, although they are also found in parts of Mexico.

In Guatemala, they are made by hand using a base of wood or wire, wool and recycled colorful textile leftovers. The dolls are then dressed in a traditional Mayan style. The size of each doll can vary, but are usually between 1 and 3 cm tall.

The face of the doll is created from cotton, cardboard & paper, or clay and the outer clothing from wool or “aguayo” – a traditional Guatemalan cloth.
worry dolls

According to the tradition of the Mayans from the Guatemalan highlands, when children are scared, brooding or have nightmares, parents give them worry dolls before they go to sleep. They would tell their doll about their sorrows, fears and worries. The children then put the dolls under their pillow at night and when they wake up, their worries or concerns are gone!

Interestingly, the doll worries about the problem, not the person, allowing the child to sleep peacefully. The worries stay with the doll, which will have to be caressed to prevent it from being in pain.

In the dolls’ original Guatemalan tradition, a local legend about the origin of the Muñeca quitapena refers to a Mayan princess named Ixmucane.
The princess received a special gift from the Sun God which would allow her to solve any problem a human could worry about.
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Worry dolls are often presented in boxes or fabric bags & in groups of 6 – one for each day of the week, giving them the option to rest for a day.

Worry dolls can be found in Guatemala and Mexico. Often, Nuns and poor local children sell them to tourists to take home as souvenirs.

Source: https://www.thefairtradestore.co.uk/blog/2019/10/13/worry-dolls-explained/

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