Where is the first use of a self animated doll, dummy or toy, in fiction or legend?

  • 2
    Are you asking about dolls/actives in Dollhouse, or did you just randomly tag something that sort of sounded like it maybe might be related to what you're asking about?
    – phantom42
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 17:05
  • If you're after the answer to "what is the first use of a living doll or dummy in fiction" then the answer is almost certainly going to be from the Bible or something related to the early days of Judaism or Christianity. There's an extensive article on wikipedia; en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golem
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 18:35
  • not touching the whole "bible is fiction" thing, but inanimate objects coming to life predate Judaism. e.g.: Galatea
    – phantom42
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 19:22
  • I don't think sculptures or effigies should count for the purposes of this question. Quite clearly he's asking about children's toys or variations of those.
    – John O
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 19:53
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    I'm with Meat Trademark on this. There were actual talking statues in antiquity - the Alexandrian inventor Hero invented a statue that spoke and ate food by means of a temple priest hidden inside it, and may not have been the first inventor to do so - and every parent knows that children are quite capable of inventing stories about their toys all by themselves, without literary assistance. It's quite possible that this particular trope pre-dates Gilgamesh. Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 5:54

2 Answers 2


These are usually attributed to the ancient idea of a golem, from Jewish folklore.

In Jewish folklore, a golem (/ˈɡoʊləm/ goh-ləm; Hebrew: גולם‎) is an animated anthropomorphic being, created entirely from inanimate matter. The word was used to mean an amorphous, unformed material (usually out of stone and clay) in Psalms and medieval writing.

The most famous golem narrative involves Judah Loew ben Bezalel, the late-16th-century rabbi of Prague. There are many tales differing on how the Golem was brought to life and afterwards controlled.


What kid ever hasn't had a favorite teddy bear that was his best friend and most certainly alive in its own right?

Ancient Greek mythology had various examples, Pygmalion being a sculpture, Talos was a man of bronze, Hephaestus made automatons for Zeus, etc...

Japanese folklore in the 10th century have tsukumogami, which are things like tools that have been used so long that they have come to life on their hundredth birthday.

From the same source as the Polish golem in the 16th century, homunculus.

In the 20th century we have Mickey Mouse animating brooms to do his cleaning =P

Further back there are creation myths where god just makes dolls and breathes life into them.

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