I accidentally landed on a blog today while searching for some images related to the Gilgit-Baltistan region. It was a pleasant surprise to see some dolls, in pairs, clad in traditional dresses, representing some of the cultural groups living in the Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral region, among other parts of Pakistan.
It transpires that these beautiful dolls have been developed by “Thatta Kedona”, which in their own words, “is a project of the first Pakistan international NGO network in rural area where handmade quality dolls and toys are crafted using all indigenous material and traditional designs based on cultural and folklore themes.”
The website also narrates that the “workmanship of the dolls and toys has acclaimed international recognition and clientele through their participation in numerous international events, exhibitions, fairs and display at International Doll Museum Iceland and Deutsche Gesellschafr zur Foerderung der Kultar, Germany. These toys are the embodiment of dreams, hopes and most of all self-reliance of the hands, which breathe a part of the soul into them.”.
Baltis are a distinct cultural group living in the Baltistan region. They share historical, ethnic and cultural links with the people of Tibet and Ladakh.
The Kalash tribes are unique. They have their own distinct lifestyle, language and culture.
Dolls have been an important part of our cultures. Mothers and aunts, or dads and brothers, have been preparing dolls, even if not very sophisticated, and children have been playing with them. However, over the years the dolls industry has turned into a multi-billion industry and very expensive dolls are traded across the world. Our remote regions are no exception. During the last couple of decades an influx of Chinese dolls and other toys can be seen in the local markets across the mountainous regions and this has obvious consequences for the local economy and culture.
The role of toys, particularly dolls, in development of a child’s behavior has been a subject of critical research. It is believed that toys can play an important role during the formative stage of a child’s life, by contributing towards development of the sense of identity. Dolls are also believed to play an important role in shaping the behavior of the children towards self and others.
In an era, where most of the icons, characters and heroes for the children, and the elders, come from Television and other media, these simple and beautiful local dolls may not have been able to get the visibility they deserve. However, these can be an important addition to a child’s toy or doll collection and they may also help the kids remain connected to their roots.
You can read more about the makers of these dolls on their blog;