Collection of Extraordinary Dolls Presented at the Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb

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Dolls were donated by kings, princes and presidents.

The Ethnographic Museum in Zagreb has presented an exhibition of dolls collected by a Croat who emigrated to Argentina and wrote to world leaders asking them for dolls dressed in authentic local national costumes. The oldest doll dates from 1961 and was a present from the first lady of Mexico. Among others, dolls were sent by Pope Paul VI and the Dalai Lama, reports Večernji List on March 26, 2016.

Ljeposlav Perinić, nicknamed the King of Dolls, sent from 1962 to 1991 letters to numerous world leaders asking them for dolls dressed in national costumes which were representative of a country, a region or a culture. The majority of dignitaries replied to him by sending a letter and a doll, so in 30 years he had gathered more than 350 dolls.

The letters and dolls are today part of the Perinić collection, which even includes an answer from Queen Elizabeth II. She wrote to say that she supported the project, but that she did not give gifts to people whom she had not personally met. “The dolls and letters have a significant cultural, social and political importance, and we must point out the importance of the story behind them”, explains Tea Rittig Šiško, the curator of the exhibition which will stay open at the Ethnographic Museum until 1 April.

Ljeposlav Perinić was born in 1922 in Split. Until the Second World War he lived in Zagreb, and then he emigrated to Argentina, where he died in 2005. After numerous exhibitions around the world, his collection was donated to the City of Zagreb in 1992 and it was decided that it would be stored at the Ethnographic Museum. “The collection is kept in a storage facility, and we have now presented about 50 of the most interesting dolls in order to promote an online catalogue which has been published in Croatian, English and Spanish languages”, says Šiško.

The dolls are of different shapes and sizes, some made by hand and of various materials – textile, leather, straw, wood, ceramics, plaster, plastic… Each doll is dressed in an authentic national costume. Australia is the only continent which is not represented, but it was decided that the collection would be closed and that no new dolls would be included. However, following the example of her father, Zdravka Teresa Perinić de Bellofatto continues to collect dolls in Argentina and she has given her collection a different name: “The Perinić Doll Collection – 21st Century”.


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