Sunday, September 15, 2019

The sad sad tale of the Guatemalan worry doll

When I was in the UK for Christmas last year, my mother gave me, as one of my Christmas presents, a Guatemalan worry doll. I had zero idea what it was – a tiny tiny doll, in a little sack, and the message on it said that you put it under your pillow at night, and it takes away all of your worries.

On returning home, I put it in the beside drawer and forgot all about it for a few months. Then I found it and did some research.
Worry dolls (Muñeca quitapena in Spanish) are small, hand-made dolls that originate from Guatemala. According to legend, Guatemalan children tell their worries to the worry dolls, placing them under their pillow when they go to bed at night. They then sleep peacefully through the night, and in the morning, their worries have gone. You are then supposed to caress the doll, as it now has your worries, and if you caress it, it stops it being in pain due to your worries.
The story of the worry doll is a local Mayan legend. The origin of the Muñeca quitapena refers to a Mayan princess named Ixmucane. The princess received a special gift from the sun god that allowed her to solve any problem a human could worry about. The worry doll represents the princess and her wisdom.
The worry dolls are made of wire, wool and colorful textile leftovers.  The face is usually made of cotton, or cardboard or clay. They are usually dressed in traditional Mayan style, clothes made with wool or aguayo, a traditional Guatemalan cloth ,and the size of the dolls can vary between ½ inch to 2 inches.

The dolls are usually kept in bags, mine was in a tiny sack, or some are in boxes, and they often come in boxes of 6, one for each day of the week, allowing rest time, to get over the worries they have absorbed.

They usually come with the following instructions:
Concentrate on your concerns or problems when you go to bed.
Tell the doll what you want them to take away.
Put the doll under the pillow.
Caress the doll’s tummy a few times so that your sorrows don’t hurt it, and in the morning, they’ll have disappeared!
So, I decided to give it a go, and unbelievably I had night after night of worry free sleep. Not that I worry a lot, but any worries I do have, appear much worse at 2 am.

Then, I went back to England, to help mum after her operation, and on my return, Danilo seemed as if he was trying to tell me something and then stopped. In the end, he came out with it. He told me he didn’t know how to tell me this, but when I was in England he was convinced I would die, or the plane would crash. I asked why on earth he thought that, and he said someone was trying to kill me (for a change!). He had cleaned all of the upstairs of the house, and washed the sheets on all of the beds and had discovered a voodoo doll under my pillow, which looked exactly like me.  He had carried out extensive investigations and he could not find who had put it there, and hence, he had no idea who was trying to kill me. But, he had burned the doll, so he was sure the spell was now broken.

Adios, my beloved Guatemalan worry doll. Rest in Peace. Back to sleepless nights for me!