In Japan "Sarubobo" dolls like the picture on the right from Wikipedia.com are human shaped "faceless" dolls, red in color and of various shapes and sizes.
They are traditionally made by Grandmothers for their grandchildren. It is thought that the sarubobo doll was originally made by grandmothers who wanted to entertain small children cooped up inside during heavy snow falls in the Hida region in the winter.
It is also thought that originally there wasn't enough money for the children of farmers to buy toys so the mothers made the dolls as a toy for their children to play with.
They are also given to daughters as good luck charms for a good marriage, easy delivery and healthy children, and a happy home.
They have no faces so the owner can imagine it and the "Sarubobo" can reflect the owner's feelings. When the owner is sad the doll is sad - when the owner is happy the doll is happy. The doll can sympathize with the owners feelings.
There is an article on the Contented Traveler website about The Sarubobo or Faceless Dolls of Japan by Paula McInerney where she talks about first seeing the sarobobo dolls, like those shown in the picture to the left, on a visit to Takayama in the Gifa prefecture.
According to Paula, "These faceless dolls have a cultural and historical significance to the Japanese people of this area."
According to her article there are different colors for sarubobo dolls - each with a different significance:
The red sarubobo is for luck in marriage, fertility and childbirth. The blue sarubobo is for luck in work. The pink sarubobo is for luck in love. The green sarubobo is for luck in health. The yellow sarubobo is for luck in money. The black sarubobo is to remove bad luck.
The original sarubobo was a red faceless amulet, resembling a monkey which was supposed to bring good luck to the receiver.
According to Paula, "Traditionally it is believed that they were all red and faceless, so that the face of whomever you were thinking about could be attached to the faceless doll."
If you would like to make a sarubobo doll of your own there is a How to make Sarubobo plush tutorial on the Mairuru blog showing how to make the dolls in the picture on the right.
If you would like to see the sarubobo plush tutorial please click here.
There is also a tutorial on the Projects By Jane blog showing how to make an adorable Family Sarubobo Mother and Child like the one in the picture to the left.
According to Jane, " I learnt to make these babies from a book I borrowed from the library. It's called Quiltagami by Mary Jo Hiney. She sews sarubobos a little differently from the method I'm using here but the end result is the same."
If you would like to see the mother and child sarubobo tutorial please click here.