19 October 2017 07:45 AM

Al-Moulid Doll

Thursday، 19 May 2016 12:00 AM

Al-Moulid’s Doll (Arousit almoulid) is a distinctive feature of Prophet Mohamed’s Birthday ceremonies in Egypt. This is considered one of the greatest religious occasions.

Almoulid doll is made by cooking sugar into water and then pouring the congested sugar into moulds. Significantly, similar moulds were used by the Ancient Egyptians for shaping their amulets. The doll’s mould consists of two parts similar to their coffin and its cover. Also it resembles their Pharaonic statues.

It is worth noting here that historians almost unanimously stated that "almoulid" doll was an exclusively Fatimid creation; it did not exist in any other period in Egypt.
The manufacturing of "almoulid" doll is a multi-staged process.

Manufacturing the wooden moulds:
They are made in small workshops nearby the confectionery factory (where the dolls are produced). These moulds are carved of timber and given different shapes in accordance with the weights specified by the factory owners. Such dolls are sold for the amount of congealed sugar they contain. The skilled engravers pour the congealed sugar liquid into the moulds, each according to the required weight. These moulds consist of two complementary halves, which when put together give the required shape and hold the required weight of congealed sugar.

The skilled and experienced engraver cuts the figures in the mould, and he always leaves the lower part shapeless and empty so as to form the doll’s skirt. After pouring the liquid sugar, it is left to cool and become dry or rather solid. Also engraved in the mould are the doll’s hands, which are always at its waist.

Tying up the moulds:
The first phase involves the two-part mould being tied with flax rope and covered with water.

Moulds are soaked so that water may go through their pores; this has a twofold purpose: first, the congealed sugar does not get stuck, and second, the temperature inside the mould decreases, which speeds up the freezing of the liquid sugar. Moulds are stacked up with their open, empty ends upward.

Congealing the sugar:
A worker puts a certain amount of sugar in a big copper container with two wooden handles. The sugar is added to an equal amount of water. The container is put on the cooker. To the water and sugar is added some salt and lemon juice. The worker keeps stirring until the mixture gets white and thick. Naturally many containers are used in big factories.

A spoon-like piece of wood or a stick with a broad end is used for stirring the mixture. This stick is called a demon’s leg. It is believed that the first confectioner in Egypt was called El-sheikh Alhalawani and that he used a demon to help him in his work. Then one day, so the myth says, the demon fell sick and when El-sheikh went to see him, the demon’s mother told him that her son had passed away. Then Elsheikh decided to take the demon’s leg and use it for stirring the liquid sugar.

Pouring the congealed sugar:
The container with the congealed sugar is taken off the fire and put on a table, and the tied moulds are placed into them. The geared sugar is poured and left for ten minutes until it gets solid inside the moulds. Then, the extra liquid sugar is poured back into the container, which is congealed and poured in other moulds again.

Then comes the adorning of the doll. Basically females do this multi-phased process.
First, they make the inside lining of the doll’s skirt, which is very often multi-layered. This design is taken from women’s outfits in the Fatimid period; they used to wear than one skirt at a time. This inside lining is made of paper. It is hemmed first and fixed around the waist of the doll with a string.

Next is the doll’s dress, which consists of a skirt, a chest, a back, and sleeves. The skirt is cut with one or more layers of graded lengths in a zigzag shape, with same or different ours, bordered at the waist. In this way the size of the doll’s waist is determined. Then, both the chest and back of the dress are also fixed with string around the waist. The sleeves are then tied to the doll’s arms with a wire, which is also used to fix its extra hands, which are held in supplication.

As for the make-up, only healthy dyestuff (which is used for dying foods) is used. Also real make-up can be used, especially for homemade dolls. Eyes and eyebrows are penciled in black color, the cheeks and lips colored red, the hair is either dyed black or a silver or golden wig is fixed on the head. Finally, the nails are painted red.

Also the doll is further decorated by fans and flowers. For these two items the following materials are needed:

* Palm dry branches that are cut lengthwise according to the required height of the doll’s adornment. These longitudinal pieces are then covered with colored paper.

* Preparing fans that are made of colored hemmed paper adorned at the outer perimeter with a lustrous paper frame. Also fans are of different sizes.

* A wire coil is used as a long rope for tying and fixing colored paper flowers. The number of these flowers differs according to different types of dolls.

* Now the palm branch is vertically fixed on the doll’s head and tied with wire around the neck and waist. Then one or more branches are horizontally fixed with the vertical one, so that one is in line with the doll’s shoulders and another at its waist. This number is increased according to the doll’s size. Fans are fixed either at the vertical palm branch if the doll is small, or at the horizontal, if it is a big one. Also in each of its hands a colored flower is placed. Nowadays, a color hemmed-paper veil, like a bride’s veil, together with a golden or silver crown is placed over its head.

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