1. Welcome to the world
This candle holder is for a seven-day-old baby. Egyptian people have a ceremony, a special celebration, when a baby is seven days old, to welcome him or her to the world. It is called subu, which comes from the Arabic word for seven. All the children in the neighbourhood come, and all of the family too, of course.
Egypt; 1996; earthenware, iron, paper, plastic wrap; TM-4241-488
2. From mother to daughter
A mother gave this doll to her daughter when she wanted to have a baby. The daughter wore it on her belly to make the birth easy. Later she gave the doll to her daughter, if she had one. Each daughter gave the doll a different name, and her baby would get the same name.
Ambo; Angola; 1900-1957; gourd, textile, string, beads; AM-17-1237
Tell each other: is there a gift that gets passed on in your family? What does it look like?
3. Who is the cradleboard for?
This is a cradleboard, and was a gift to Joyce and Loran Thompson, the parents of baby Skahentati. Many of the indigenous peoples of North America use such cradleboards. They are mostly carried by mothers on their backs. The baby is very safe inside, and the cloth over the top protects the baby’s head. In this way, it was also a gift for little Skahentati.
Sakokwenionkwas Tom Porter (1947-); Mohawk Nation; Hogansburg, United States; 1977; wood, cotton, nylon, leather; WM-68833
4. International toy
Every baby loves a rattle. This one is also a whistle, so it makes lots of noise when you shake it. The noises would also scare off evil spirits. It’s a Dutch tradition to give a silver rattle, and the shape of this one is European, but it was actually given to someone in the Chinese community in Indonesia.
Peranakan; Indonesia; 1915; silver, mother of pearl; TM-5972-5
5. A gift for protection
In lots of countries babies get a present as soon as they are born. But it’s not to play with. It might be jewellery, or beads, or a bracelet. These gifts are to protect the baby from dangers that you can’t see. People call that the ‘evil eye’. The blue coloured bead protects you from it.
5A Blue bead and pouch: Anatolia, Turkey; before 1996; brass, plastic, gold, textile; TM-5676-1a and b
5B Bracelet and pin: Marchano Prahaladsingh; Hindustani; Netherlands; 2012; gold, filigree; RV-6191- 3 and 4
5C Bead: Turkey; around 1982; glass; TM-4956-188
6. Now you’re one of us
Inside this gold box there was an amulet, an object that protects you. In Bali babies get an amulet about three months after they are born. Their parents organise a ceremony to officially welcome their child to the world. In Bali people believe that a member of their family who died comes back to them as a baby, and they celebrate this.
Wayan Kardi (1942-); Bali, Indonesia; 2017; gold; 7151-1