Dolls are the representative of a nation and are the confluence of its different ages, time and culture. The rich cultural heritage through the ages can be vividly depicted through these dolls. Religion, nature and human interaction have been the three basic inspiring forces for artists down the ages, although the medium of expression has diffused from stone and canvas to cloth and celluloid. From early times, various materials have been used to make toys and dolls.
We caught up with Rina Soundalgekar who makes traditional dolls and has kept alive the tradition of making them. She has employed a few women who are needy and have taught them to empower themselves.
Dolls have a special place in everybody’s life and most people have their favorite dolls. What’s makes these dolls unique is that they evoke nostalgia.
Answering to our question, Why these dolls? Rina said
My Vision is to have an Indian traditional doll in every house. I have studied in Italy and while I was doing my masters in Italian language I found that the Italians were very fond of dolls and almost everyone had a show doll in their house. That’s what made me think and I thought it should also happen in India. The other strong reason is that children will learn a lot about Indian culture through the Dolls.
Rina further said, these dolls are an art in itself and all the dolls are handcrafted. The passion to make these dolls was always there since childhood. After my marriage when I shifted to Belagavi, I had to give up on my job as a Italian language specialist. That’s when I started perusing my passion and started making them from 2008.
All dolls made by Rina will be exhibited at the Mahveer Bhavan Art Gallery, Mahaveer Bhavan Hindwadi on 23, 24, 25 December along with Tanjore Paintings of Smita Nadkarni.
Rina has made around 2500 dolls, and adds, More than the number what inspires me to make these dolls is the variety. I have made dolls that represent the costumes of different states, different dance forms of India. Theme based on Indian festivals and rituals. I have also made dolls of different professions. There is so much more to do.
The process of making a doll from its conceptualizing, design and then designing the costumes is the most time consuming part. It gives immense satisfaction when we derive inspiration from Indian traditional dressing and complete a beautiful doll. On an average it takes one day and four different women workers to complete one doll. These are all handmade dolls and hence it takes time and tests your patience at times. My passion to make dolls has helped me to continue doing so. These are made from environment friendly material. Most of it is cotton.
Rina adds, there are play dolls and show dolls. The one I make are more of show dolls. These are usually kept in showcases. Lot of people like buying them for festivals and auspicious occasions. Many people place orders with us during marriage seasons and they tend to buy dolls to display and then gift it to the bride.
Rina plans to start a dolls museum which she plans to start by next year.
When we asked, how can people become part of this journey?
Rina said, we will appreciate if anyone wishes to contribute any Indian traditional dolls or foreign dolls. We are also looking for people to contribute Bhatukli (Kitchen utensils used by kids). It’s a journey that we wish to accomplish with the help of the society.