The crafts of West Bengal are renowned all over the word, mainly because of their pastoral charm. Amongst all the crafts of the state, the art of clay doll making is amongst the most popular ones. These beautiful, lively clay structures are adorned with vibrant colors. Though the art of doll making has always been an integral part of Bengal's culture, it gained momentum under the patronage of Maharaja Krishnachandra of Krishnanagar, in the late 18th Century. Ghurni, in Krishnanagar city of Nadia District (West Bengal), is the place renowned for its clay sculptures and toys.
Apart from Krishna Nagar, you can also find clay dolls in Puilya, Tantiberai, Tulsiberai and Sariyala - Balipota and Midnapore. The clay dolls are basically made by pressing and molding methods. First of all, different kinds of clay is blended and mashed, to form a dough-like material. With this dough, different parts of the sculpture are designed, by molding and pressing them to give the desired structure. Then, clay paste is used for sticking together all the separately molded parts. The resultant object is baked in high temperature kiln. After the basic structure is formed, the doll is painted in various vibrant colors, by brush.
Putul, as the Bengalis fondly call their clay dolls, come in various types, depending upon their structure and the purpose they are made for. The rustic beauty and homeliness of these dolls make up their most attracting attributes. The clay sculptures of West Bengal are designed in various themes, many times representing the village life as well. These dolls are a craze amongst the foreign tourists of the state, who find this art totally unique and love its vibrant colorfulness. Let us know more about the different types of clay dolls in West Bengal.
The size of these dolls varies between 1-2 inches and 4-5 inches. They have attractive blue and red stripes, on white coating. They are basically found in Tulsi-berai, Midnapore and Berachampa-Debalaya towns.
Horse Riders (with & without wheels)
These dolls are about 4 to 5 inches in height. Just as their name suggests, these dolls are shown riding a horse, which can be with or without wheels. The wheeled horse rider dolls are made in Tantiberai and Bantul towns.
Mother Dolls of Bankura
There are various types of mother dolls made in West Bengal, varying according to the different centers of their formation. The two famous most mother dolls are the red Sonamukhi Dolls and black Panchmura dolls.
Dolls with Hip Jars
These are beautiful dolls representing the women of rural Bengal, carrying water pots on their hips. They are popularly known as 'Kalasi Kankhe Putul'. Of all the dolls with hip jars, a unique sculpture called hair-care dolls is the most famous. In the latter type of dolls, where a mother is shown breast-feeding her baby and there is another woman behind her, caring for the former's hair.
They are real-life stylized dolls, depicting various social scenarios in India, like Collector's court, tea garden, pandit sabha, Charak festiva,l etc. These dolls are highly expensive, with their major clientele being formed by the foreigners.