TOYS AND FORMS OF ENTERTAINMENT OF THE PAST Helen Li American Museum of Natural History The American Museum of Natural History has permanent cultural exhibits that display ancient artifacts from all over the world. The toys in each exhibit are definitely worth noting because these toys reveal cultural differences among societies from the past and present. Toys from Africa These clay figurines are created by Egyptians and tribes living the grasslands of Africa. Most toys from these areas are of animals such as horses and oxen. Toys from Africa In Africa, young adults danced and sang during major events and these instruments are widely used as forms of self expression and communication. These instruments are usually made of metal and bamboo. The instruments shown on the left are classified as idiophones, and the instrument shown below are string and tube zithers. Toys from Northern Asia A huge quantity of wooden sculptures are found in Siberia. Almost all o f the sculptures are of sea animals and grassland animals such as horses and bulls. The wooden horse on the bottom were made by Yakuts, a large tribal group that depend on cattle and horses unlike other tribes that depend on reindeers. The Yakut tribe is a patrilineal society where horse owners are recognized as wealthy. Toys from Northern Asia These two dolls from Northern Siberia are made of animal fur and wool. Siberia consists of tundra and rivers that stretch to the South. The doll’s clothing reveals the frigid conditions and climates of Siberia. The heads of these Siberian dolls are made of duck bills. Toys from North America This is a game played using 102 sticks and a pointer. The game is played by separating sticks with the pointer. One of the most popular sports developed by the Iroquois is lacrosse which is a sport that is still played now. This game involves rackets and nets shown on the right. Toys from North America The Iroquois invented games such as the moccasin game where opposing teams had to guess under which moccasin lays the stone. They also played the Snow Snake game where players competed to see which player can throw the snow snakes the farthest. These games reveal the competitiveness of the Iroquois tribe. Toys from North America These dolls on the left are among the few dolls in this exhibit. The dolls in the bottom left corner are made of corn husk, which is a major crop produced by the Iroquois. However, it is worth noting that although the body structure and facial features are not too detailed, its clothing is definitely sophisticated and realistic. The dolls’ clothing is almost exactly the same as what the tribal members wore. Past to Present The figurines in the museum are realistic and reflects the different societies’ culture and ways of living. Compared with modern toys, toys of the 21st century are more embellished and fantastic with fictitious characters and imaginary spaces. These differences are mainly due to advances in technology and cultural diffusion and collaboration. In the past, toys are a form of luxury and reflects their ways of living, but in current society, toys are more accessible and becomes a “necessity” rather than simply a form of entertainment .