Amish Spotlight: Dolls

As part of my research for my Appleseed Creek Mystery Series, I toured an Amish home. In the bedroom of the home a faceless white cloth doll sat in the middle of the bed. Then, I saw another one in the living room on a chair and countless others in the Amish gift shops around Holmes County. All Amish dolls have blank faces because of Amish belief.

This belief goes back to the Amish interpretation of the following scripture: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth,” (KJV, Exodus 20:4). In more modern translations of the Bible, these “graven images” are most of time translated as “idols.” To the Amish this second commandment given to Moses on Mount Sinai means any kind of reproduction of a human face is wrong. This includes art, such as paintings and sculpture, and is one reason that the Amish do not like being photographed.

In A Plain Death, four-year-old Naomi Troyer has such a faceless doll. Chloe Humphrey, who is a computer geek and new to Amish country, asks about the doll’s missing smile and the other Troyer children explain.

Naomi held up her doll for me to see.

“She’s beautiful,” I said. “But where is her face?”

“Naomi, doesn’t speak Englisch,” Thomas said. “She hasn’t started school yet.”

“Oh.”

“Her doll doesn’t have a face because Daed says it’s wrong.”

I glanced at Grandfather Zook. “Wrong?”

“It makes a craven image,” Thomas said.

Ruth snorted. “Graven image, you goof.”

Thomas made a face at his sister.

This small aspect of Amish doctrine has a huge impact on the Troyer family, particularly Becky Troyer, learn how in A Plain Death.

Enjoy the photos, you may see Dead Fred in one!

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