Toys Craft

As the human beings gradually began to move towards settlement from the nomadic way of life, the men started molding the available natural resources imaginatively to make them useful and more enjoyable. They started, among other things, shaping the dolls and toys with clay, wood, stone or clothes to entertain the kids. Thus, originated the crafts of dolls and toys.

The toys made of soil found from the Indus Valley Civilization are of pre-historic period. The foreign accounts of travelogue validate that the dolls and toys made of clay, cloth, and wood were the regular creative pursuits in ancient India. For example, Lord Valencia traveled India in the beginning of the 19th century and narrated about the process of making wooden toys in Pataliputra in his travelogue.

In those days, every kid was taught to make the dolls and toys from cloth and clay at home wherein dolls were made out of old, recycled clothes, or soil, or even straw. The making process begins with cutting the cloth in different forms like legs tail, face etc. and are sewn together from needle thread to make it look like elephant and horse. Then it is filled with paddy husk, cotton or old cloth etc, and stitched together.

Purpose for making such dolls and toys were overtly entertainment, but indirectly to sensitize children to their custom, to train them for future roles, and to foster creativity among kids. 'Sama-Chakeva' is a festival celebrated in the Mithilanchal wherein the women in general symbolically make the 'Sama' and 'Chakeva' with soil for the celebration. Women observe the festival for the longevity of their brother. This festival has kept the tradition of making toys with soil still alive in this region of Mithilanchal.

On the occasion of 'Vat-Savitri' in Bihar, the women make the dolls. This festival holds a special importance for newly-married. Diwali festival too is marked by the practice of making a symbolical house from soil, bamboo, sikki, wood etc. The toys and dolls as birds, camels, elephants, horses etc. are still made in Mithila and Bhojpur regions, but practice is driven more by entertainment motive than by commercial.

Due to growing availability of employment opportunities in doll crafts, the women of cities including Patna, Lakhisarai, Bhagalpur, Madhubani, and Munger have started adopting dolls-making as a profession. Their process of shaping dolls and toys involves two processes - ragged model and stuffed model. First, the doll's length, breadth, and thickness are engraved on clothe. Then the clipped cloth is stitched in a fixed shape and then cotton is filled to shape the thickness and roundness of the doll. Apart from this, some artisans also make dolls and toys from the rag model. First of all, the structure of the wire is made in accordance with the imaginary doll and it is wrapped in a framework with the help of rag papers and clothes. For each part of the body, the cloth is clipped by making the shape from the fixed form. In both the cases, special attention is given on the countenance of the doll. The face is made with the help of clay and plaster of paris.

A rich tradition of making wooden-toys has been in custom in Patna City, Danapur, Lalganj (Vaishali), Gaya and Mirzapur (Samastipur). In Patna, the husk of hazelnuts and coconut are used to make attractive turtles. In the process of making wood-toys, the exercise begins with cutting the wood in small sizes and then is decorated as per the formulated design.

The foreign accounts of travelogue validate that the dolls and toys made of clay, cloth, and wood were the regular phenomenon of ancient times of India. In those days, every kid was taught to make the dolls and toys from cloth and clay at home. The dolls were embellished with clothes, hair etc. Old clothes were recycled to make the dolls. Toys and dolls are not for the sake of entertainment of the kids only, but have more relevance in the traditional aspects also. A didactic sense could also be noticed behind this long-established custom.