Assam’s Zankla Studio designs Bodo Dolls narrating the unsung tales of largest ethnolinguistic group

The remarkable craftsmanship that goes into making Zankla Studio’s heritage soft toys serves a purpose beyond children playthings as each meticulously hand crafted doll carries a narrative of local culture besides commanding the kid’s interest.

Taking up solution-oriented projects and choosing to pursue design, Zankla Studio, in the heart of Hazuma Assam is the brainchild of designer Kirat Brahma who has been making an exquisite range of heritage soft toys for the last few years.

The carefully crafted pieces of art narrate the stories deeply rooted in the local culture and traditions of the Bodo community, who are the region’s earliest settlers and the largest ethnolinguistic group in Assam.

If there is a doll of Gambari Sikla who fought against the British, there is another styled on ‘Bodofa’ UN Brahma, an influential student leader in the Bodo-dominated region of the state.

According to Brahma, “Our culture and design are entwined, be it in our dress, our cultivation methods or something as basic as the bamboo fencing around our homes.”

He believes that toys should do more than entertain. They should educate, inspire empathy, and connect individuals with their heritage, hence Brahma and his team handcraft dolls, birds, animals, and even souvenir pieces, all infused with captivating stories. For example, their rhino toy portrays the struggle of the magnificent creature as it navigates human habitation during floods, evoking both empathy and understanding from its young owners.

Zankla Studio stands out for its unflagging devotion to local crafts  and heritage. Their toys are meticulously crafted using standard fiber for their soft bodies and locally sourced fabrics for clothing.

Following the norms of environmental sustainability, Brahma and his team are also exploring organic alternatives for the raw materials they use, ensuring that their creations are not only visually stunning but also environmentally friendly.

They tag a pamphlet with each doll recognizing the boundless creativity of children and their love for stories. These pamphlets draw green minds towards the cultural heritage of the state, creating a truly enriching experience that transcends the iconography and captures the spirit of the community.

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