This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Through The Enchanting World Of Dainty Dolls: The International Dolls Museum

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

By Pranil Yodha:

The world of delicate and dainty dolls not only mesmerizes you to the extent that you bear the enthralling experience of a lifetime in your heart but also immensely dazzles you by the aesthetic art that it exhibits. The intricateness related to the structure and physical attributes of each doll tempts you to kiss the hands of the artists who put their heart-felt efforts in creating those masterpieces.

Shankar’s International Dolls Museum or just International Dolls Museum, which stands on Delhi’s Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, located in the Children’s Book Trust building, conspicuous amongst the offices of big media moguls and offices, should be a mandatory location on everybody’s travelogue.

The overall experience of the museum becomes scintillating and enthralling as one gradually goes through the ravishing costume dolls that give an insight into the culture of people of an array of nations, tribes, religions, races and regions. The ‘sneak-peek’ into different cultures of the world, not only does it makes us aware of the attributes, attire, accessories and jewellery exhibited in a particular fashion world over but even the dances, festivals and folklore incorporated in different traditions.

The museum, which was earlier called Nehru museum, is divided into two halves. The two sections have over one-sixty glass cases displaying sixty-five hundred exhibits, with one displaying exhibits from almost eighty-five countries, thus giving the museum an international character. The other section displays a representative collection from the over one-fifty kinds of authentic Indian costume dolls.

“Indian dolls made at the workshop adjoining the museum are exchanged for gifts received from abroad as well as sold to collectors and museums in India and abroad”, explained, Shanta Srinivasan, advisor, Dolls museum.

This paradise for children, which possesses an incredibly huge collection of costume dolls, was founded and created by the critically acclaimed political cartoonist of Hindustan Times, K.Shankar Pillai to convey his compassion and affection to children.

Costume dolls and puppets, from different countries viz. Australia, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Netherlands, Iraq, Hungary, Belgium, Poland, Slovak republic, Greece, Sweden, Italy, France, New Zealand, Cuba, Colombia, Ireland, UK, Argentina, Bolivia, Ghana, Tanzania, Vietnam, Russian Federation, Brazil, Greenland, Commonwealth of Independent States, Turkmenistan and the list goes on, are on display in the first section of the museum.

You would be amazed to know that some dolls can be considered as antiques as their origin can be traced back as early as to the eighteenth century! For instance, the exquisite dolls of Switzerland were created around 1781.Some dolls have been received as gifts from foreign dignitaries, such as the Mexican dolls were presented by First Lady of Mexico and Yugoslavian dolls were presented by Madame Tito, the First Lady of Yugoslavia, in 1966.

Another salient feature of the costume dolls is that they are shown in different postures, apparel and background to depict some special signature traditions of the people it represents. In the Thailand’s glass case, for example, boat markets are depicted and in that of Japan, Samurai warriors are displayed. The dolls that catch your attention are dolls of Flamenco dancers from Spain, Maypole dancers from Hungary, Boys and Girls festival dolls, replica dolls of Queen’s collection from UK and Kabuki dolls from Japan.

The festivals celebrated by different countries are also depicted like a scene of the celebration of the famous festival of Sri Lanka, Kandi Perahera, has also been exhibited. The climatic conditions and how people lead their day-to-day lives can also be known only by seeing the dolls. Many of us aspire to have a world tour but do not have enough money, but this museum takes you on a roller-coaster ride around the whole world in a fraction of minutes.

The second half comprises Indian dolls entailing a variety of dolls from all states of India. This very beautifully depicts and delves into the enriching culture of our country. The different attire, complexion, physical attributes, dances, festivals, ornaments and signature features of people of all states is shown. Like the dolls of Himachal Pradesh are shown very fair with deep red cheeks and lips. There is glass case displaying the couples of different states of India to give an insight of the dressing way of the people. You can easily distinguish the sarees worn by women of Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Delhi by just different ways of draping the same saree.

There is another glass case showing the ‘Brides’ of India i.e. how the brides of the different states differ in their intricately embroidered dresses and ornaments. The postures of all the classical and folk dances of India, namely Kathak, Odissi, Manipuri, Kathakali, Nongkram, Mohiniattam, Kuchipudi, Bharatnatyam, Bhangra, Dandiya ras and Matka have been very magnificently portrayed through the medium of dolls. What catches your attention is the ‘how to wear a saree’ demonstration given by a 36-24-36 sized pretty Indian doll.There is also a beautiful representation of various tribes of India such as Naga, Bondo, Muria, Bagai, Bhil and Santhal.

The ancient culture and history of India has also been depicted in the museum. The seven incarnations of Lord Vishnu, Raslila of Lord Krishna, Ram Darbar and a sculpture showing the scene for Holika Dehan from the Bhagvata Purana, a great Indian classic, are all examples of the same. The amazing portrayal of the mischief of young Lord Krishna steals your heart. Through the display of Dandi March, one gets a glimpse of the modern history of India.

“The dolls are made from either terracotta or papier ma^che’.You must be getting alarmed by seeing naked dolls, we have got accustomed to it”, guffawed Ms Srinivasan as she led me to the workshop to show how dolls were created. As we entered the workshop, we leapt into the magical and enchanting world of dainty dolls, where dolls were created and dressed to give pleasure to and soothe the eyes of the viewers. The workshop specializes in beautiful, authentic, handcrafted costume dolls depicting a cross section of people of India. The diversity of Indian culture comes alive through them, for each doll is made after a meticulous study and research into the habits, physical features and style of living of the people it represents.

You must be to comment.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Rachit Sharma

By Vir Bhagat

By Rachit Sharma

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below