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Friday, December 2, 2016

Inspiration:How These Beautiful Nungshiba Dolls Have Become a Means of Empowerment For Naga Women


A state defined by its lush mountainous terrain, picturesque village settlements and rich cultural heritage, Nagaland is also recognised for its finesse in fashion and handicrafts. In keeping with tradition, an all-girls entrepreneurial team in Nagaland has started a unique venture called Nungshiba Handicrafts.Not only does this initiative provide an opportunity to emerging home-grown designers to market their handicrafts, it also helps them make a decent livelihood by selling them at their outlet. Their most popular product? The beautiful handcrafted Nungshiba dolls!

In 2011, Zuboni Humtsoe had just graduated from college. With her father seriously ill and her family undergoing a severe financial crisis, Humtsoe knew that she would have start earning immediately to be able to be contribute to her family’s income. Sitting on the cold benches of the hospital, a determined Humtsoe promised herself that she would make her own destiny and not wait for anybody. While most of her relatives advised her to try for a government job, Humtsoe decided to follow her passion and set up a small business with the tiny capital of ₹ 3500 that she had saved from her college scholarship.Passionate about art, fashion and photography, Humtsoe has always wanted to do something different. Taking inspiration from beautiful Japanese dolls, she decided to use left over fabrics to make beautiful handcrafted dolls that they would marketed under their brand, ‘Precious Me Love’ or PML. The idea behind this was to up-cycle fabrics and reduce carbon footprints while simultaneously empowering more local women in the process.

Over the years, Humtsoe worked really hard, taught herself, experimented, innovated, and kept herself open to feedback and criticism. She also surrounded herself with genuine and positive people who inspired her to push herself and never give up. With time, everything started falling into place.Today, PML sells everything from vintage clothing and fashion accessories to a variety of tribal handcrafts. However, their signature products remains the traditional Nungshiba dolls. The dolls have been named Nungshiba (which means ‘love’ in Manipuri) in honour of PML’s first crafts designer, Babita Meitei, a Manipuri.

Inspired by the beautiful tribal women of Nagaland, each Nungshiba doll is carefully designed and takes a day to make with two expert crafts women working together tirelessly. The end result is beautiful handmade dolls that wear unique mekhlas (traditional wrap-arounds worn by the Naga women of each tribe) with intricate pattern of beads and hand-stitched designs. Humtsoe says that they take special care to ensure that each each Nungshiba handcrafted doll is special, unique and a joy that will last forever.

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