Types of Dolls in West Bengal
The popular dolls of West Bengal are earthen dolls, shellac dolls, wooden dolls, coloured terracotta dolls, palm-leaf dolls, hand-driven dancing dolls, diwali dolls, etc. These are detailed below:
Earthen Dolls: Earthen dolls are made by pressing soft clay or pouring it in a mould to give it the desired shape. After that the dolls are always burnt in fire. Generally, the dolls are left without any colour, but sometimes a juice of tamarind seeds with grounded mica is painted on the dolls to give them a reddish hue. Mostly the dolls are given the shapes of female figures.
Shellac Dolls: Shellac dolls were produced by the Nuri community of Birbhum. The dolls were made by mixing clay and colours with lac after they got extracted from the sticky dye of the insects’ body. Earlier, Birbhum was the hub of the shellac production, but due to the downfall of this industry, production of shellac dolls was also collapsed.
Wooden Dolls: Wooden dolls were made by the carpenter community. The dolls were carved out of branches of trees and then dried up to apply paint on them. Carving of the branches is done by male members of the family and the female members do the painting part. Red, blue, yellow, white, black and brownish colours are mixed with a paste, which was made of tamarind seeds to paint the wooden dolls.
Coloured Terracotta Dolls: Terracotta dolls are made either with the help of moulds or by shaping soft clay with fingers. The dolls are generally light in weight with distinct face, eyes, limbs, postures and bright colours and dresses.
Palm-Leaf Dolls: The dolls are made out of palm leaves and shaped like sepoy or soldiers. First the palm leaf is cut in the shape of a human body and then it is attached with a bamboo stick stitching its hands and legs together with threads. When the bamboo stick is rotated then the doll tosses its hands and legs in the air; the doll is further covered by a hat.
Hand-Driven Dancing Dolls:Most of the dancing dolls are made of wood. The heads come down till the neck and the palms of the hand are linked with wrists. They are like hollow tubes, in which the artists can insert his fingers and make movements. The nose, ears, hair bun, the parting of the hair, etc are done by carving the wood, while the eyebrows and hair are brush-painted with colours.
Diwali Dolls: Diwali dolls are made by the potters’ community of Medinipur and Purulia districts of West Bengalby joining separate parts of clay together. These dolls are used to illuminate by the lamps provided on the hands of the dolls. The number of lamps increases with the height of the dolls.