Thatta Kedona

Culture is a Basic Need

Doll-making event aims to teach children about heritage

By ASMA KUNDI — in Dawn 

Handmade dolls on display at Lok Virsa on Tuesday. In the other picture, dollmakers at work. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: When her teacher said the class will be attending a doll-making workshop, 14-year-old Rohi Pervez from Government Model School was very excited.

“I love handmade dolls in traditional dresses and jewellery. Now I can make one for my little sister as well,” a very happy Rohi beamed while attending the first day of a week-long doll making event at Lok Virsa on Tuesday.

To promote Pakistan’s traditional skills and heritage and to raise awareness about them among the youth, Lok Virsa is holding a series of programmes titled ‘Craft of the Month’ where one craft is focused on every month.

After truck art and pottery making, this month Lok Virsa hosted the opening ceremony of a workshop titled ‘Doll Making: Engagement with Artisans’.

Four doll makers from Okara, Chakwal and Islamabad are displaying their mastery of the art at the event.

They put on colourful displays of their dolls, decoration pieces and tiny doll dresses that they had made earlier and taught children how to hand make dolls and how to fashion traditional, Pakistani dresses for them. All the dolls were made from local material.

Handmade dolls on display at Lok Virsa on Tuesday. In the other picture, dollmakers at work. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad

One doll maker, Hafiza Begum from Chakwal, told Dawn that she had been making dolls for some 14 years.

“People don’t buy handmade dolls a lot; they prefer mass produced, plastic dolls which cost more. However, foreigners like our work and buy handmade dolls at exhibitions and whenever they visit.”
Some 40 children from different schools administered by the Federal Directorate of Education attended the event. The Directorate General for Special Education also nominated a group of 12 special children to learn the art of doll making.

Students huddled around the doll makers and tried to learn the art. They picked out the fabrics they would use and had a wide selection of colourful threads to choose from. The boys were just as excited about the workshop as were the little girls.

One student, Mohammad Sami Khan, was particularly good at learning how to make dolls and even helped his friends along.

Eyes shining with excitement, little Sami said: “People think only girls like dolls, but I am enjoying this so much. Doll making is so interesting.”

A teacher accompanying the students, Rehana Younus, said: “The children are very excited and happy and are hanging on to every word of the doll makers.”

To give the children a more realistic taste of village life, a folk band performed at the event. The band sang national songs and Qawwalis.

Students of Islamabad Model School for Girls performed a show themed around cultural diversity in which they put on dances from all the provinces.

Talking to Dawn, Lok Virsa’s Executive Director Dr Fouzia Saeed said the programme was initiated so children would be more aware of their roots and traditions.

Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division Barrister Usman Ibrahim, who was the chief guest, appreciated Lok Virsa’s efforts towards preserving the heritage and engaging children in the process.

He said: “Events like this will create an interest among children about their traditions and culture.”
Renowned artist and puppeteer Farooq Qaiser also attended the opening ceremony. He said: “Doll making is one of the oldest and most popular forms of art in Pakistan. It started off with clay dolls and now we have ones made from fiber glass. Dolls were our friends when we were kids and these handmade ones also portray our culture and traditions.”

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:45 AM,


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