Come Navaratri and toys and dolls in myriad mediums from different regions beckon attention.

‘Toys contain the ancient memories and tears of old men and the laughter of children.' – A Bhil saying

India's traditional toys are redolent with the fragrance of mud and grass out of which they are often fashioned, the magical colours of Nature, the richness of mythology and the joy of festivals.

The festival of kolus during Navarathri take centre stage once again, with different types of toys and dolls telling fascinating tales. The All India Handicrafts Fair on in the city celebrates the diversity of toys crafted out of clay, wood, papier mache and brass.

West Bengal's Krishnanagar clay toys, each a minuscule piece of art, smack of artistry. A potter working, a priest, a tailor, a vegetable seller surrounded by vegetables… the facial expressions, stance and clothing are made to perfection.

Antique finish

Small poikaal kudhirais from Kanchipuram and Karnataka's black clay Ganeshas and artefacts add a touch of brilliant blue, green, yellow and black to the collection. Interesting additions are brass Saraswatis, Lakshmis and Krishnas crafted by Moradabad artisans who are largely Muslims. The icons have an antique look and are invested with a delightful sense of movement.

Some of the most attractive pieces come from Kondapalli. Brightly coloured and possessing a rare charm, the range includes ultramarine Krishna on a swing under flower laden trees, caparisoned elephants and palanquin processions, bullock carts with women in the driver's seat, and a standing Hanuman in green, his tail curving up in artistic fashion.

Artisan Mohiudeen from Kondapalli learnt the craft from his father and grandfather. He says, “The wood we use is lightweight and lends itself to intricate carving. It grows in the woods near Kondapalli. We use special tools for carving and for concept, we look at old pieces and use our imagination. Once the carving is done, we do the painting with a fine squirrel brush, using vegetable colour powder mixed with coconut oil. The Kondapalli toy requires no polishing.”

Wooden bangles and other artefacts are also available. Other items on view are lac bangles in luminous colours from Rajasthan, Thanjavur art, Patachitra painting textiles and made-ups. On at Sankara Hall, TTK Road, Teynampet, till September 30.

Keywords: Navaratrikolu

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