Voodoo or Voudon dolls are actually based off of or from in a historical and cultural context from the origins of the African statuettes called Minkisi. Minkisi were usually small carved wooden figurine like totems, and many had hallowed out insides or compartments where herbs and other items were placed within. Such herbs and objects corresponded to (depending on the tribes or regional peoples beliefs) aspects of what they desired or the affect they wished to happen. However the items they placed into were within a linguistic context associated with their words associated with the name of local spirits and so on, and often times the items placed in Minkisi were metaphoric in nature for example a birds claw to catch wrong doers or a nail to enact punishment or justice, mushrooms for healing or medicine, or charcoal to strike or extinguish something and so on and so forth.
Minkisi and their intent or afflictions are categorized into two classes; the Minkisi of the Sky which is associated with the masculine form and rain, lightning, and storms. The Minkisi of the sky are believed to be associated with violent, aggressive, and forceful and were thought to hold a higher importance and power. The second class are the Minkisi of the Land which is associated with the land, the water on the land such as rivers, lakes, and seas, and are considered to be of feminine form. Essentially the Minkisi of the sky were used as totems of power to inflict damage, to hold power, and to gain wealth and prosperity. The Minkisi of the Land were used to heal, seek wisdom and higher thought and knowledge, see visions, and other intentions of a noble cast.
Anyway, I have been studying voudon, voodoo, and so on, and I have been focusing on the African origins as of late so I thought that it would be nice to include this piece on the origins and history of voodoo dolls.