Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Day 89 & 90- Traditional Handcrafted Toys

Traditional handmade toys from India are often regarded not just as craft but Art as well. I can totally see why. I fell head over heels in love with these Ganeshas which I found in a "higher end" shop at Little India. The bigger 6 of them ( 2 3/4" high and 1 1/4" wide) are musicians playing different traditional Indian instruments. The 2 smaller ones (3/4" wide and 1 3/4" high) depict Ganesh in prayer positions, riding what look like cats.

I have never bought anything from this "higher end" shop (although I browse there often) because it is priced for tourists. There is however very little I can do when love strikes. You just obey your heart and throw caution to the winds.

I asked the shopkeeper where the toys are from. She told me Mumbai *roll my eyes.

After a bit of research, I found an online shop selling the wooden figure of a 10 headed Ganesha (left) (am I missing something? 9 heads no?). The description says the figure has been carved and painted by the artisans of Andhra Pradesh in India – a state famous for its woodcraft traditions.

But then I also found this set of 6 musicians (right) and the description says they are made by a group of artisans in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

This last pic I found are of the ones I bought but there is no description.

So if anyone knows the origins of my Ganesha musicians, I will really appreciate if you can leave a comment at this post or email me the information.

Anyway, as luck will have it, I also found 6 little gendang ("double headed") drums at another shop (one of them has already been used):

I have been looking for mini Indian musical instruments for ages. The drums, which begun life as keychains, were perfectly scaled at 1 1/2"-1 1/4" tall and about 1"wide. They are decorated with Arabic scripts on both sides. Stall owner told me they were made in Malaysia. Wrong! It's Indonesia.

Little India is so addictive that I can walk the same street 2 days in a row. The set of clay dolls below were purchased the day before:

The old man lying in his blue chaise lounge was the reason I bought the whole lot. At first, I thought them too crude but when I placed them in a scene (which will be posted later), I realise what treasures they in fact are. Although slightly smaller than the other glamour dolls I have , they are giants on "character" and I love them better. They will be perfect as my villagers. Again, the shopkeeper was unable to tell me much but I did find this post about traditional clay dolls from Punjab.

Just before I ended the day at Little India, I found these baskets/trays/cages :

I was told that they are mini "bird traps" but of course, I did not believe Mr WillYouJustPayUp&NotAskSoManyQuestions. He was close though, I found out that they are actually miniature fish traps (less than 2" tall) . These "traps" are going to figure quite prominently in my project. I fear though that some of you will not approve of my use but trust me, they will help in reflecting a very real part of what's life like in 19th century India, maybe even now.


Pubdoll said...

This is too funny! I hadn't read this post when I sent the mail with the Ganesha figure I bought in Little India! But I must say your Ganeshas are much nicer than mine. On the other hand I'm sure my Little India is much smaller than your Little India :-)

I love the elephants in the table cloth in the last picture!

rosanna said...

The clay dolls are wonderful, i like them much better than the other. They are truer in attitude and colours, I really love them, I love the fish traps as well. While,I do not know why, I'm a bit scared by Ganesh. Today I walked past the Indian restaurant near my shop and there was a Ganesh head on the window. Do not ask me why but it made me shrink back. It gives a chill to my backbone. Although I know that it is a benevolent deity.I'm sure I'd love to do shopping at your Little India. Big hugs

Liberty Biberty said...

Love the fish traps!! Very cute clay dolls.
I think we need to see a pic of EVERYTHING you have for your palace and village all together...seems to me like you might need another room on your house pretty soon!

Ara said...

Oh wow - those drums were a fantastic find!!! in scale and everything! I also love all the toys, good luck finding their origins... I would have no idea!! -ara

Sans said...

I have a confession to make as well, Rosanna. I love elephants but Ganesh too has the same effect on me. I still remember the Hindu Milk Miracle in 1995 when milk disappears after being fed to Ganesh statues. The phenomenon was world wide, I think even here in Singapore. Since then, I have always thought Ganesh a powerful deity and one to be feared. But these little ones are so vivid in colours and very well done. I look at them as work of art.

SuZ thinks the clay dolls are gems too and much better than the others, except the Palace Four (Tara, Maya, Jai , Raj) of course.

Sans said...

Mercedes, aren't the traps just fantastic? Very very well made too. Soon, you will see another annex I am in the process of putting together. At least Part 1 of it. And all the things I have featured in this post are used for this annex. Almost there now, just a couple of weeks more before I finish Part 1.

So funny that you should comment about another room. That's exactly what MarG said to me last night when she saw the state of the dining table.

Ara, you can't imagine the excitement when I saw them. I walked away the 1st time when the stall owner refused to give me a discount but I eventually relented.Absolutely no regrets when I see them displayed :).By the way, I am sure you can make them Ara, if Thing should feel in the mood for a bit of traditional "percussioning".

Sans said...

Helene, just read your email..too funny indeed and another one of those serendipitous moments. I have seen the incense-holder-Ganesh at the shops in our Little India as well. They are pretty, aren't they?

Everything in Singapore is small. So is Little India here but in a small area, they packed many many shops. If I don't stop and browse, I can walk from one end of the main road to the other in 10-15 minutes. Is yours smaller than that?

Trust you to notice the table cloth. It's a traditional folk sari I bought in India. They are commonly worn, probably by the poorer womenfolk. I thought they can pass off as terracotta or more likely painted cement flooring for my Annex LOL

Pubdoll said...

I thought the Ganesh coincidence was so funny I forgot to mention your other purchases. The dolls are really nice, great expressions. My favourite is the man lying on the blue chair/bed. And I'm curious what to see what you will do with the baskets/cages.
I think the cloth will make a great flooring. Just make it a little bit dirty first perhaps?
And my Little India is just one tiny shoop, I can easily cross it in 10-15 seconds :-) The whole town can be crossed in 10-15 minutes.

Sans said...

Ouch! Dirty my sari? er...I don't think I can bear it.

Helene, old man is my fav too and he just looks great wherever I place him even if it is in the middle of a group of dancing girls!

LOL, ok if your Little India is one tiny shop then I guess Singapore's beat yours! Have I ever told you, you always crack me up?

Eva said...

OH! I have a Ganesh in my office!!!
Yes! we work very close with India and one my colleagues bought a Ganesh one time. But our is blank with white lines. So beautiful.
I love also yours with all these brilliant colours.
I can wait to see where you are going to place the fish traps!!!

Sans said...

Eva! You work closely with India?? Wow! I was just making some things from material I bought from India and am so careful with them..don't know when I am going back there again. I absolutely love Indian art and craft. Most of them anyway :).

Tallulah~Belle said...

What a splendid shopping trip you had.

I LOVE those drums. We have a small Indian shop here where we go to buy our favorites foods, spices etc but they have nothing like this in
there :-(

Took me forever and had to blow up the photo to see that elephant :-)

Sans said...

I think Helene has elephant-radar and can spot them even in camouflage and hiding. She also can see things in 3D, I believe because I just realise that the elephant is just a tiny corner piece.

You have to check out Indian art and craft store. For the drums, it was a stall selling tacky souvenirs from South East Asia. LOL.

Tallulah~Belle said...

Nothing like that here :-( Now if I was back in England I'd find loads of stuff.

Must remember to go mooching when I go home.

Sans said...

I sometime wish I started this hobby sooner. Been to London twice and would have visited all the mini museums. Don't think I will go back there for a long time

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