The Thanjavur dancing doll, known for its dancer-like continuous movements with slow-damping swinging, has become an integral part of the renowned Kondapalli craft.
In 2002, Kondapalli-based artisan Chavala Uma Maheswara Rao had started manufacture of the dancing doll in different styles–Hindu goddesses, Bharatanatyam, Kathakali and Manipuri dancers. The doll is made of paper and wood mesh.
“The demand for the dancing doll across Andhra Pradesh is so high that we are unable to meet manufacture targets. Since this is made in Kondapalli, the doll lovers call it Kondapalli toy, instead of its original name: Thanjavur doll,” Mr. Maheswara Rao told The Hindu . On the land where barely around 200 nimble-fingered artisans are now retaining the glorious past of the toy-making industry, the dancing doll, which is nowhere relates to the Kondapalli toy-making process is now in great demand.
The dancing doll with its unique shape and colour is being displayed and sold in every manufacture cum toys’ selling point in the Kondapalli village. Of late, lack of availability of a special wood referred for these toys ‘Tella-poniki’ in the nearby forest has also led the artisans to shift their focus on promotion of these dancing dolls, rather than their very own art of Kondapalli light-weight Toy Making.
“Only five artisans from Kondapalli can make the doll. But the demand for it is from across the State. Maximum of 100 dolls are being manufactured by each artisan, but we are still lagging in meeting the demand for it,” said Mr. Maheswara Rao and his young student Eruva Sai Gopi.
According to the artisans, paste which is a mix of paper and wood mesh, tapioca and white stone powder is applied on the targeted shape. Any given doll has four parts – head, body, hands and legs with the base. The perfection of the handicraft lies in how best the artisan can fix an iron ring, connecting the head to its rest of the parts in order to allow its head to swing.