The Guatemalan worry dolls legend
These little dolls come from Guatemala and south of Mexico, where the descendents of the Mayans still use them as an amulet to help with their children’s sleep. They can vary from 1.5 to 10 centimeters in length, usually with an internal structure of wire or wood and vegetable threads. They are generally dressed in cotton, wool or other colorful textiles, such as aguayo cloth, very typical in the country. In Spanish they are called “muñecas quitapenas” or “chamulas”.
What do worry dolls represent?
The origin of the worry doll comes from a Mayan goddess named Ixmucané, who received a special gift from the sun god. This gift gave her the power to solve any problem that could worry a human being. So, the Quitapenas doll represents this goddess and her wisdom.
How to use them
Originally these figurines were intended to help the children, but today they are also common in the lives of adults. When they cannot sleep, or if they have nightmares, the dolls are in charge of relieving their sleep, allowing to rest peacefully. To benefit from their spiritual power, we should talk to them in private before going to bed and tell them our problems, sorrows or sadness. Then we say that we want to be happy and give them a kiss, to finally place them under our pillow. During the whole night the dolls will look for a way to solve or calm our sorrows.
They are usually collected in boxes or cloth bags in groups of 5 or 6, to be used alternately on different days of the week. This way these Guatemalan worry dolls are not overloaded, giving them the chance to rest for a few days. They can also be caressed after a night’s sleep, so that the sorrows they carry with them do not hurt.