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Indian Kutchi Dolls


Kutchi dolls are created with cotton, small cuttings of fabric and an assortment of colourful beads and mirror. Only scissors, needle and thread are used to create these beautiful and intricate dolls. The clothes of the Kutchi dolls model those worn by the villagers.

Cultural notes

Kutch in Gujarat is the largest district in India. Its geography is characterised by an extreme ecological divide, with the Arabian Sea to the south and the vast Thar desert in the north. Over the past 800 years, many nomadic and semi-nomadic communities have made the desert region of Kutch their home.

These communities have earned Kutch world renown with their tradition of sewing wonderful intricate embroideries. Each community has its own distinct stitch, motifs and patterns that reflects their unique customs and culture, and marks their identity. Embroidery is integral to the Kutchi cultural identity, and this craft is passed on from generation to generation by Kutch’s ethnic communities.

Rag-doll making is a centuries-old tradition of the HarijanMeghwar. Each doll adorned in their traditional dress, reflects the cultural identity of the community. The rag-dolls were made from used fabrics, reflecting the traditional wisdom ofthe communities to recycle and re-use materials.

Suggested activities

Dramatic Play: 

  • Ensure your doll corner always has a range of different dolls that represent a variety of cultures. This ensures that children have a sense of belonging within the environment.
  • Include some fabric and materials with your dolls, so children can create their own clothing or wrap the material around the dolls like a sari

Art & Craft: 

  • Explore the colours, textures and materials in the kutchi dolls. Using the dolls as a provocation, invite the children to create mixed media artworks with coloured pencils, beads, mirrors or reflective pieces.

Books/ Story time:

  • Use dolls, finger puppets and other props to bring stories to life
  • Explore ‘I is for India’. This photographic alphabet explores India’s customs, religions and culture, focusing both on the rhythms of the bustling cities, and on day-to-day village life.
  • Read ‘My Mothers Sari’. – A little girls sees her mothers sari as “”long like a train”” and that it “”fills the air with color when I dance and sing.”” A blue sari is a “”river””; a patterned one is a place to hide with her friends. Best of all, the youngster wraps herself in the vivid cloth because she loves how it makes her dream. The endpapers demonstrate how to wrap the garment. Full-spread illustrations capture the colors and textures of the fabrics and the little girl’s wide-eyed playfulness and love of her mother’s attire. Extend on this story in to music, movement and dramatic play through the inclusion of saris, scarves and materials.

Group/ Circle Time:

  • Read through ‘The Clothes we Wear’, borrowing items of clothing to reflect those discussed in the book. Discuss the differences in the clothing, touching on the climate in each country, materials, cultural beliefs etc. Discuss children’s favourite items of clothing and why this is their favourite.

Music and Movement:

  • Extend on ‘My Mother’s Sari’ story by introducing Indian music and pairing this with cultural clothing including sari’s and scarves
  • Introduce children to Bollywood dance through videos and instructions on Youtube. Teach the children the moves one step at a time before combining the moves in to a Bollywood dance.

Food and Cooking:

  • Introduce some Indian dishes in to your menu. Items such as butter chicken and rice, roti breads and raita are perfect options to introduce children to Indian foods.

Language and Counting: 

Community Engagement:

  • Invite an Indian parent/ community member to come and share their culture with the children
  • Take children on an excursion to a local indian restaurant where they can try different Indian food

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The research for this resource was made possible through a grant from the Central Coast Council.