Voodoo Dolls are a type of sympathetic magic that uses a doll in the image of an intended victim to place a curse, usually in the form of sticking needles into the doll to cause pain to the victim : despite its name the practice is more in line with Hoodoo, which is often confused with Voodoo due to sharing similar origins and beliefs.
The form of the voodoo doll as it is most commonly understood is based on a magical practice that historically derived from Europe rather than Africa or the Americas. Textual records attest to the fact that certain cunning folk in Britain made dolls of a witch out of rags and other materials and then pierced them with pins with the intention of inflicting physical harm on the witch and breaking their bewitchment.
The link between this magical practice and Voodoo was established through the presentation of the latter in Western popular culture during the first half of the 20th century. In this, the myth of this magical practice being closely linked to Voodoo and Vodou was promoted as part of the wider negative depictions of Afro-American people as well as Africans and Afro-Caribbean religious practices in the United States.
In the 1984 film, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, a voodoo doll is used, resembling Indiana Jones.
By the early 21st century, the image of the voodoo doll had become particularly pervasive. It had become a novelty item available for purchase, with examples being provided in vending machines in British shopping centers, and an article on "How to Make a Voodoo Doll" being included on WikiHow.
Due to Voodoo being immensely popular in media (often, as mentioned, confused with Hoodoo) the Voodoo Doll has become one of the most widely used items of black magic in fiction - to the point of becoming one of the first things many people think of when the word "Voodoo" is mentioned.
- In John Houston Craige's Black Baghdad: The Arabian Nights Adventures of a Marine Captain in Haiti, he described a Haitian prisoner sticking pins into an effigy to induce illness.
- The also appeared in film representations of Haitian Vodou such as Victor Halperin's 1932 Pre-Code horror film White Zombie and Jacques Tourneurs' 1943 horror movie I Walked with a Zombie.
- In the 1975 film Lisztomania, a voodoo doll resembling Franz Liszt is used.
- In the 1988 supernatural slasher movie Child's Play, the serial killer Charles Lee Ray|Chucky used a voodoo doll resembling his former Voodoo instructor John Aelsop Bishop (also known as Doctor Death) and brutally utilized the man's "personal mojo" against him after he refuses to help due to Chucky as an abominable outrage against nature for evil deeds and his murderous abuse of voodoo magic.
- A voodoo doll had also been included in the 2009 animated Disney movie The Princess and the Frog.