Crafts I love- a dreamy handmade doll from Pakistan and a treasure trove of @_Khaadi handicrafts

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I just received a beautiful package from my niece in Pakistan, Emma Varley- medical anthropologist.

A handmade doll and Khaadi handicrafts:


Khaadi is an amazing treasure trove of textiles in Islamabad, and the handicrafts in Gilgit are wonderful… I think the dolls are all cute and quirky and funny and odd … their character is what I love so much.  I asked each of the women making the dolls to come up with their own faces for each one, and the range is wonderful.

– Emma Varley, 2013


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Emma began the memory doll project in 2011:

After several weeks of effort, we have finally had two doll protoypes made that represent what we hope will be the final product – or something very close to it! The dolls have been made so far by local women who are receiving skills and handicrafts training at a missionary run sewing school.

The master trainer who made these dolls – an Ismaili woman from a nearby village, Oshikandass – says that it takes her 2-3 hours to make one doll. We are supplying the women with all the necessary materials – fabric, filling, thread – and are negotiating to pay a commission for the work completed.

The faces of these dolls are definitely quirky, but I like the design as it represents how locals typically draw facial features. We have asked the women to be as imaginative as they can with each doll and to have fun with the designs.


Doll 1 Doll 2

Given the difficulties in ensuring standard doll sizes/construction and also quality control – particularly in poorer households where it would be difficult for women to keep material clean and in a good condition – we decided that we would sub-contract the construction of the dolls’ bodies (which will be based on a jointed rag doll design) to ‘Shining Light’ students. [‘Shining Light’ employs and trains poor Sunni, Shia and Ismaili women in Jutial Mohalla, which is one of Gilgit Town’s largest neighbourhoods.] Supervision for the body construction will be the responsibility of the center’s master trainers, all of whom are local women who were once students and are now in-charge of various components of the program (e.g., embroidery, weaving, pattern design and cutting, etc).

 – Emma Varley, 2011