Corn Dolly

A corn dolly, also called a corn maiden, corn mother or old woman is a decorative object made from weaving grain stalks together. It is traditionally made of the final sheaf of wheat harvested preserved throughout the winter as a temporary home for the spirit of the grain until the following planting season when it would be plowed into the fields to ensure a good harvest.

The corn dolly may take human form or another shape including spirals, braids, crosses and more. Different regions specialized in different shapes and designs and had different rituals associated with them. These rituals included processions, selecting specific individuals to cut or carry them, such as old men or old women, hanging them in particular places in the home or outdoors or keeping them in a cradle.

Image by Chris Salt on Flickr

More Information Online

The Guild of Straw Craftsmen
Dartmore Corn Dollies

Further Reading

The Golden Bough, James Frazer
The Complete Book of Straw Craft and Corn Dollies: Techniques and Projects by by Doris Johnson and Alec Coker

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