Pòpchi

The special thing about this doll is that it has been baptized. It also has a name, a godfather and a godmother. The tradition of baptizing dolls shows that in Curaçao foreign influences develop their own characteristics over time. This Roman Catholic ritual has become fully Curaçaoan.

The doll is baptized in the name of the needle, the thread and the safety pin. The Roman Catholic church has always had a lot of influence on the island and actively fought against Afro Curaçaoan culture. This doll shows they did not completely succeed.

Listen to the podcast

2:27 min

"The tradition of baptizing a doll just suits me because I never gave birth - and now I can be the godmother of a doll"

- Ersilia Pietersz-Martina

My name is Ersilia Pietersz-Martina – but everybody knows me as Chila. The tradition of baptizing dolls is an old one. Women who couldn’t have children of their own could baptize a doll and that way they could become godmother of the doll. Like in my case: I have two children but I didn’t give birth to them. I have two daughters, one is 35 and one is 41 years old and I’m so happy with them, I love them dearly. The tradition of baptizing a doll just suits me because I never gave birth – and now I can be the godmother of a doll. That way I can relate to our traditions. I am very proud every time they ask me to be the godmother of a doll. In this case my brother actually made this doll, he made it from cloth. I like it when they’re made of cloth because it makes it more traditional, more real, more authentic. I have a doll that has my skin color so I really feel like I’m part of the doll. His name is Chófilo. I gave him an old name . It’s an old name but we have to go back to the old days so I can’t give him a modern name – so I called him Chófilo.