190723 ambreen fatima
Ambreen Fatima, a young doll maker hailing from Rawalpindi, has been in the industry for the last 10 years. Image Credit: Supplied

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s handicrafts have unique appeal and if marketed properly 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.

Ambreen Fatima, a young doll maker hailing from Rawalpindi, has been in the industry for the last 10 years and is proud to be associated with this handicraft that is also her passion.

190723 pakistan dolls
Image Credit: Supplied

“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.


the year Fatima visited the UK where her dolls were a hit

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.


how much she sold her dolls for in the UK, up from Dh22

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 (Dh22) 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.

It not only helps them in earning but will also give them a sense of fulfilment that they are protecting and promoting indigenous, centuries-old handicrafts of their country, she said.

Besides dolls, she also prepares miniature, doorbells, small toys and more. “There is no end to orders not only from Pakistan but also from Canada, UK and other countries,” she said and gave credit to her mother for passing the skill on to her.