To preserve the indigenous crafts of artists in and around Pondicherry and to give them an identity, the Pondicherry Craft Foundation and National Institute of Fashion Technology have tied up to identify four native forms of craftwork such as Villianur terracotta; Thirukkannur papier-mâché; Kosapalayam Kolu toys; and Panruti dolls. With the help of the Foundation, some of the units have acquired geographical indications.
Munnusamy of Om Sakthi Fine Artworks, says, “Anyone who is interested in setting up a doll-making unit must register with the foundation. These units have got the recognition for the elaborate work that has gone into their craft.”
Explaining about the way the artists go about their jobs, he says that the craftsmen of Kosapalayam visit temples to study the nuances of the subject. “For instance, they have made a number of dolls based on the sculptures of the Thanjavur temple. This is one of the reasons why the figurines look so realistic and are in great demand.”
The story of Thirukkannur is a little different. It is believed that the art of making dolls evolved a long time ago. The century-old idol of Jesus Christ kept in Our Lady of Angels Church in Pondicherry is believed to be made by the artists of Thirukkanur.