Keep the Doll Rolling!

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Posted in Art, Arunachal Pradesh


Chirasmrita Devi

When you hear ‘dolls’ what are the things that come to your mind?
Barbie.. Annabelle or may be Chucky!
Now, can you tell how many tribes are there in Northeast?
You might be wondering what is the connection between dolls and the tribes of Northeast India. Never thought about it right? Well, somebody did!

An Electrical Engineer from Arunachal Pradesh has made an ‘adorable’ attempt to promote the tribes of the state through self-knitted crochetted dolls.

Belonging to the Idu-Mishmi tribe, Sushma Linggi hails from Roing, Lower Dibang Valley. During her first posting as an Assistant Engineer in Dept of Power, Arunachal Pradesh, Sushma had some time to explore which she invested in knitting sweaters and doing embroidery. While browsing the internet once, she came across these dolls and was immediately intrigued by those. But she had no idea about crochetting. As they say, where there is a will there’s a way, Sushma learned the process of making these dolls by watching online tutorial videos. Taking the hard-work from her father and creativity from her mother, Sushma incorporated her talent in the dolls.

Sushma Linggi

Sushma grew up watching her mother who  is an expert in weaving their traditional mekhela( thuwe) and beading jewellery (Lekepo). Her mother still continues to make traditional handbags and sell them. Her mother’s creations inspired her to give a tribal touch to these dolls. She has made dolls of a few tribes and aims to cover as many tribes as possible.

“Our state has a rich cultural heritage. The details on our handlooms are heavy and intricate. I want to share our culture with the rest of the world and if making these dolls can give such exposure in even tiniest of the way then I shall continue making them”, added Sushma.

She started making these dolls in 2018 as a hobby. “People seemed to like the byproducts of the hobby and intended to buy them. So finally I went commercial in July 2019”, said Sushma who loves to go hiking, exploring places. BTW, Badminton is a part of her daily routine. Sushma informed that it takes around 4 hours to 4 days to make a single doll depending upon the size and the detailing of work.

India imports over 80 per cent of its requirement of toys especially from China. Most of these are of questionable quality. The country is also planning to cut down imports of certain goods and toys may fall those. Hence, these local creations can get huge push. The introduction of the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a ray of hope to the local farmers, entrepreneurs etc.


Supporting the initiative, Sushma said, “I truly believe that introduction of “atmanirbhar bharat” shall promote local entrepreneurs.This initiative of Government of India shall boost the sale of such local handicrafts by providing it a  platform with reduced completion from the world market. I believe that people should make wise choices by refraining from buying plastic toys and encourage young ones to buy goods that are locally made .This way they shall promote local handicrafts and also reduce carbon footprint in the society.”

Sending some positive vibes Sushma added, “I would also like to use this opportunity to send a message out that , during lockdown times people have ample of time in their hands. They can use this time to engage in their hobbies and It is a perfect way to enjoy  and earn at the same time”

Currently  Sushma is just an one-woman army making the dolls. In future she has plans to teach this art to the women of various self help groups (SHG) so that they can dedicate more time to this and also generate income.

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