“Jhabua” famous for doll making, locals refer to call these doll making as ‘Adivasigudiyashilp’.
Jhabua predominantly a tribal district located in the western part of Madhya Pradesh.There you will find Bhils, Bhilalas, and Bhagoria tribal community mainly on the whole . Jhabua has all district level basic necessary infrastructure and administration like Government hospital, bus stand, district court, police headquarters and markets.
Although Urbanization stimulates the lifestyle of these rural Adivasis but still you can find handful followers of Adivasi cultural in weekly Haat bazaar (market). In these haat bazaars, you will get a variety of handcrafted material products, including bamboo products, dolls, bead jewelry and other indigenous items.
In these haats, Bhagoriya haat festival is very famous. Bhagoria is not merely one festival, but in fact, a series of fairs held one by one in various villages on their specific market days, commencing eight days before Holi. Many interesting facts I heard about this Bhagoriya hatt bazaar. Earlier, the Bhagoria haat was the place for settling old disputes; open invitations were sent to enemies for a fight in the haat. Bloody battles used to be quite common in the past; but today, police and the administration do not allow people to go to the haat armed.
Another interesting fact is- as earlier there was no concept of matrimonial so this festival become a place, where boys and girls of marriageable age meet and after choosing partners runaway (Run Away is Bhag in Hindi, that’s why we call this community Bhagoria), As per the tradition the boy applies gulal (colored powder) on the face of the girl whom he wish to have as his wife. The girl, if willing, also applies gulal on the boy’s face. This may not happen immediately, but the boy may pursue her and succeed eventually.
Isn’t interesting?, if I would be one from this tribal community, I will get dressed up in my best outfits and makeover, before to set off into my groom hunting. Otherwise in urban cities, finding groom is a wild goose chase task. Well, jokes apart. So as I mentioned , you will find boys and girls in their traditions attire during these Bhagoria haat festival.
I visited last year this haat bazaar to compare these doll resemblance and I found these dolls truly a symbolic representation of the Bhil and Bhilala tribe and their historical ethnicity.
Doll making tradition in Jhabua is many generations old. These dolls represent the tribal men and women’s lifestyle in colorful traditional outfits and ornaments. They adorn the female doll with silver ornaments like Galsan Mala (bead necklace) or Chaandi ki Hansli (silver necklace), Kadas (bangles) and colorful Bhagoriya bridal wear Ghagra/Choli together with small utility items such as bamboo baskets and earthenware.
On the other hand, the male counterparts are seen in Dhoti & Kurti with traditional Teer Kaamthi (bow arrows) – highlighting hunting and gathering as primitive occupations of this tribe. Such symbolic representation of the Bhil and Bhilala tribe, their existence and ethos, translates these little dolls into an important medium of expression of historical ethnicity.
As raw materials they use colorful vestiges of fabrics, clay, plaster of paris, cotton, wires, beads, metal jewelry, silver paint and bamboo. The facial expressions are painted with great attention to detail. These dolls in itself tell their glorious traditional stories . Various variety of these dolls u will find at ‘Shakti Emporium’ famously known as ‘Gudiya Ghar’ owned by a private entrepreneur Mr. Subhash Gidvani who practicing it since 35 years.