No dearth of talent in Pakistan Traditional doll maker urges artisans to innovate in their skills

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Zubair Qureshi

Pakistan is full of talented people and its artisans and skilled workers have unique talent to showcase country’s indigenous heritage to the outer world. This was said by Ambreen Fatima, a young traditional doll maker who prides in projecting Pakistan’s soft image to the world.
Ambreen Fatime while talking to Pakistan Observer during a World Youth Skills Day event at the youth hostel said our handicrafts have unique appeal and if marketed properly, the government can generate reasonable revenue for the cash-strapped country. Stone-carving, embroidery, lacquer art, woodwork, paper quilling, porcelain jewellery and doll making are some of the crafts that are indigenous and reflect Pakistan’s richness in handicraft, she said.
Ambreen Fatima hails from Rawalpindi and has been in the industry for the last 10 years. She is proud to be associated with this handicraft that is also her passion.
“I learnt doll making from my mother Fauzia Naheed, who, after death of my father some 30 years ago, experienced hardships in her professional life. In order to raise me and to run the household she made small dolls and sold them,” said Fatima. “I grew up seeing my mother making and selling dolls and from the very childhood I took a fancy to these little colourful objects that were always there to give me a lively company,” she added.
After completing her intermediate education, Fatima formally joined her mother in making dolls and today she is an accomplished doll maker. Fatima is not ready to accept there is little demand or no income in this profession. Our handicrafts have great demand not only at home but also abroad, said she.
“We only need to innovate in them, the traditional arts and crafts and make them according to the needs and trends of modern times,” she said. Fatima has categorised her dolls into Balochi, Pushto, Punjabi, Sindhi, Gilgiti, Kailash and Multani versions and clothed them according to the respective culture.
“Unless we add variety to these dolls we cannot expect a market for them,” Fatima said.
Fatima has also been running workshops and classes with youths of Islamabad and Rawalpindi and she teaches them how to make dolls. Sharing her experience visiting the UK in 2013 where her dolls were put on display at an exhibition, Fatima said her dolls sold like hot cakes. A doll that gave me Rs1,000 in Pakistan was sold against Rs4,000 in the UK, she said. They had seen Barbie so far and seeing these traditionally clad dolls made them crazy, Fatima said.
Fatima’s mother has been associated with the Lok Virsa (National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage) of Pakistan that has been showcasing her work on various occasions.
Fatima said there is immense potential in handicrafts and indigenous skills and Pakistani youths, particularly girls, should come and try their luck in this field.

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