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The Legend of the Guatemalan Worry Doll



*Please Note: Common Hope does not ship worry dolls. If you are looking to purchase worry dolls, please consider ordering from UPAVIM Crafts, a Guatemalan cooperative providing safe work opportunities with a sustainable living wage for women.


Worry dolls (also called trouble dolls; in Spanish, Muñeca quitapena) are small, hand-made dolls that originate from Guatemala. According to legend, Guatemalan children tell their worries to the Worry Dolls, placing them under their pillow when they go to bed at night. By morning the dolls have gifted them with the wisdom and knowledge to eliminate their worries.

The story of the worry doll is a local Mayan legend. The origin of the Muñeca quitapena refers to a Mayan princess named Ixmucane. The princess received a special gift from the sun god that allowed her to solve any problem a human could worry about. The worry doll represents the princess and her wisdom.

This is Do

ña Lucia from San Pedro los Heritos. Five years ago she was working for a company that sells crafts. She was making bracelets and tea cozies when she was asked to create worry dolls.

Doña Lucia taught herself  how to make worry dolls to sell in the markets in Antigua. Unfortunately she earned very little at the company and was often not even paid for her work. She decided to quit her job and sell her worry dolls independently!

Because of her bravery, Doña Lucia now contracts with various clients in Antigua that sell her worry dolls, ensuring that she is able to pay the living expenses for her and her five children.

The worry dolls are made of wire, wool and colorful textile leftovers. Doña Lucia dresses them in traditional Mayan style, but she also makes other styles like a bride and groom or a doctor. The size of the dolls can vary between ½ inch to 2 inches. Doña Lucia says when she began making worry dolls she would make 10-15 per day. Today after years of practice she is making 50-75 per day!

Doña Lucia and her family began working with Common Hope five years ago. They are using the clinic and have participated in the Nurturing Parenting Program. Because of Doña Lucia’s hard work and some support from Common Hope programs, there is less the family needs to worry about. To see the progress her family has made brings Doña Lucia a lot of joy. This year she has started to participate in our Day in the Life activities that we offer to visitors. She hosts small groups to share with them her art and profession of making worry dolls, an activity that requieres fine motor skills and is a lot of fun!


*Please Note: Common Hope does not ship worry dolls. If you are looking to purchase worry dolls, please consider ordering from UPAVIM Crafts, a Guatemalan cooperative providing safe work opportunities with a sustainable living wage for women.

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