Today’s featured dolls are the Tanjavur Dolls, so called, as they are made in Tanjavur.
Tanjavur is one of the oldest cities in South India. The city boasts some of the best temple architecture in the country, built during the golden reign of the Chola dynasty.
The two pictures above show a typical ‘Thalaiyaatti Bommai’ (meaning a doll that shakes its head). This doll actually comes in 4 pieces. The base, the skirt, the torso and the head. Each part is balanced on the part below it on a thin curved wire, which causes the different parts to oscillate, each time you touch them.
Kids and adults have a lot of fun, making these dolls move.
In my Golu, this doll was the welcome doll, greeting friends as they entered the house.
There is also a joke about the term ‘thalaiyaatti bommai’ – as a nickname for people who say ‘yes’ to everything!
The second type of Thalaiyaatti Bommais are the ‘Chettiar-Aachi’ dolls. A must-have in every Golu. These dolls are always in a couple, husband and wife. They are an ode to the rich business heritage of the Chettiar community in South India. These dolls are usually made of two pieces; only the head piece shakes. These dolls represent growth, happiness and prosperity.
In a typical Golu, these dolls are placed with grains and vegetables.
The other type of Tanjavur Dolls are the roly-poly dolls usually depicting the kings and queens of the region. These dolls have a spherical base and hence, come back to the same position after one moves them.
The Tanjavur Dolls are made from sago, wood pulp, papier mache and Plaster of Paris. They are supposed to have become popular in the early 19th Century.
The Indian Government has now included these Tanjavur Dolls in the Govt. of India Geographical Indications Registry, as lawfully originating in the region.
Hope you are all shaking your heads after this post!