Dolls of Manipur get 'Barbie' makeover

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Imphal, July 5 (ANI): The native doll in Manipur recently underwent an image makeover by acquiring the features of famed 'Barbie' doll.

The Laidhi doll, originally made from cloth and straw, after the makeover is flaunting Barbie's body parts, but wears her own traditional clothes of Manipur.

The manufacturers are procuring Barbie's body parts such as heads, hands and legs in moulded plastic and shoes from the wholesale suppliers and are dressing them up in traditional Ras Lila clothes.

S. Gangabati Devi, a Laidhi maker said that even though the Laidhi dolls have got a new makeover, they must not go into oblivion.

"The newly transformed Laidhi doll is a good progress from the older indigenous dolls. But the indigenous dolls shouldn't go into oblivion just because a newer version has come out. Likewise, both have to be given equal importance," said Devi.

Customers prefer the Laidhi in its new image even though the new designs are more expensive than the indigenous ones.

The cloth and straw dolls costs between rupees 20 to rupees 500 while the Barbie clones come within a range of rupees 100 to rupees 1,000.

Laidhi makers in the state are confined only to a few families who are fully engaged in the traditional Laidhi making, but there are few other women who indulge in manufacturing the dolls after getting free from their household chores, for some extra income.

"We thought of earning money by making dolls to support our family. We indulge into making dolls after finishing our household chores and at the same time earn money as well. This is very convenient for the women folk here," said S. Dhanabati Devi, Laidhi maker.

The art of Laidhi making has been flourishing in Manipur since time immemorial.

These dolls have been one of the most important toys, being played and loved by all irrespective of their age, cast and communities.

Initially, Laidhi making was confined to Uripok, Kongba, Wangkhei, Yumnam Leikai and Bamon Leikai.

However, realizing that the craft can be a good option to earn for a living, the unemployed persons across the state started opting for Laidhi making. By L C K Singh (ANI)

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