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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,CJB Folklore: Limberjacks/Jig Dolls (38) RE: Folklore: Limberjacks/Jig Dolls 12 Nov 19


I tried to fill out the Wiki articles many years' ago. But as is usual with Wiki some self-appointed smart-arse know-it-all kept removing my edits. Eventually I gave up, and created my website instead.

I have about 50 jig dolls from the UK, Ireland, Canada - Quebec, Appalachia - USA, even Australia (a man in the iron mask figure). None are 'black' per se; but many are 'brown-face' being whittled from unpainted wood. Is that racist?

The two 'negro' dolls I have were made in Appalachia from folks connected with Berea College. They were not termed 'limber jacks' - this being a local term from only part of Appalachia. The general term was 'jig dancing man.' The term 'jig' referring to a step dance in 3/4 or 6/8 time, or to any step dance for that matter.

They never dance out in the UK due to the extreme and draconian licencing laws which does not allow 'music' of any kind in public houses, unless the owner has taken out an expensive entertainment licence. Ditto village or church halls at say ONS barn dances. The latter are problematic in that if any kids are present - aka under 18s - then all band members and caller have to be registered as fit and trustworthy to work with children. That includes displays of jig dolls.

In Ireland the pubs are more free to allow musicians to play unhindered by stupid laws, although the draconian 'no smoking' laws have killed the pub. trade and thus many 'craic' sessions. But jig dolls are appreciated there because few have seen them.

Meanwhile in the US 'Americana' collectables include 'black' jig dolls. They fetch high prices well beyond my means. They are usually sold at auctions from house clearances.

BTW there are many animal jig dolls - pigs, horses, cows, frogs, dogs, et al. But I suppose now-a-days these do not meet the approval of animal rights activists.


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