The boom in ‘Waldorf Dolls’ raises questions about the significance of these types of dolls. Philipp Reubke, senior Waldorf kindergarten teacher and member of the International Association of Waldorf Kindergartens (IASWECE) asks, ‘what is a Waldorf Doll’? Is there a ‘real’ Waldorf Doll?
Waldorf dolls can be bought in many larger Waldorf schools, in some toy stores, and of course on the internet. There are even a number of manufacturers that have applied for “Waldorf doll” as a brand name. But are these commercially available dolls actually the real, original Waldorf doll?
Rudolf Steiner often spoke about the special qualities and needs of the young child, as well as the inner attitude and soul qualities that the adult needs to acquire in order to support the development of the child. However, if one is looking for a detailed description of how a Waldorf kindergarten should look like and the concrete activities that should take place there, these are not to be found in Steiner’s work. No program and no recipes!
There are, however, a few exceptions, a few details that Steiner describes quite concretely. And the doll is one of these. One can simply look up what the original Waldorf doll was to look like.
In his first publication on education in 1907 Steiner wrote:
“You can make a doll for a child by folding up an old napkin, twisting two corners into legs, the other two corners into arms, a knot for the head, and painting eyes, nose and mouth with blots of ink.” (1)
And many years later (1923) he said something quite similar:
„Give a child a handkerchief or a piece of cloth, knot it so that a head appears above and two legs below, and you have made a doll or a kind of clown. With a few ink stains you can give it eyes, nose, and mouth, or even better, allow the child to do it“. (2)